Broadway Theatre  

Helen Hayes Broadway Theatre

The Helen Hayes Theatre opened in 1912 as The Little Theatre.


Helen Hayes Theatre

240 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10019
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The Helen Hayes Theatre is located on the south side of 44th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenue. It is number 31 on The Broadway Map


By Subway, take the A/C/E to 42nd Street, walk north on Eight Avenue and then turn right onto 44th Street. Or take the 1/2/3 to 42nd Street, walk north on Seventh Avenue and then make a left onto 44th Street.

Although the awning above the entrance says "Helen Hayes Theatre", the building itself still bears the imprint of "The Little Theatre," providing both a reminder and a description of this cozy house. The theater is the smallest on Broadway, and its intimate design lends well to small plays. The theater has a neo-Colonial design, with an exterior of red brick and white shutters that could probably use a paint job.

Best Seats in the House:
With only 597 seats, the Helen Hayes Theatre is small enough that you'll be hard-pressed to find a bad seat, but because it is more long than wide, you probably don't want to sit too far back. The middle of the orchestra and the front mezzanine offer the best views. The side seating is fine for the Helen Hayes Theatre, and there are no obstructed view seats. Though some seats in the orchestra under the overhang may have a poor view of the very top of the stage, few plays put on at this theater utilize upper level space on the stage, rendering this concern insignificant.
Helen Hayes Theate

Helen Hayes Theatre Background:

In 1912, producer Winthrop Ames built the littlest theater on Broadway and called it, appropriately, the Little Theatre. At first it had a mere 299 seats, the idea being to have a space to present more experimental works. Ames had limited success in doing this, and financial troubles forced him to add more seats and eventually to begin leasing the theater to other producers. In the 1940s and '50s, the Little stopped presenting legit shows altogether and spent several years as The New York Times Hall and later as a TV studio. It once again became a part of the Great White Way in 1963, spent a brief year as the Winthrop Ames Theatre in 1964 while housing The Subject Was Roses, and then reverted back to being the Little Theatre once more. In 1983, after receiving a thorough restoration, it finally became the Helen Hayes Theatre. Hayes, the beloved actress whose stage career spanned much of the 20th century, is often called "the First Lady of the American Theatre." These days, her theater is spoken of with as much fondness as the lady herself by aficionados who appreciate having this rare intimate space on Broadway. In the quaint but dingy little lobby is a lovely plaque that reads "Dedicated to Helen Hayes, who has given life to the theatre."

Previous Shows at the Helen Hayes Theatre:

A couple of the greatest playwrights of the early 20th century had shows at the Helen Hayes Theatre (well, technically it was called the Little Theatre back then): George Bernard Shaw's The Philanderer and Eugene O'Neill's first full-length play, Beyond the Horizon, both played here. Later notable plays and musicals included Gemini, Torch Song Trilogy, The Nerd, Romance/Romance, Artist Descending a Staircase, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, and Dirty Blonde. In the last several years, the Helen Hayes has hosted some excellent one-person shows, such as Lynn Redgrave's Shakespeare For My Father, Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman, Say Goodnight, Gracie starring Frank Gorshin, and Golda's Balcony starring Tovah Feldshuh.


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Seating Map for Helen Hayes Theatre:

Theatre Seating Chart for Helen Hayes Broadway Theatre