One of New York’s oldest theaters will stage a play for the first time in almost 50 years when movie star Jake Gyllenhaal makes his Broadway debut later this month at the Hudson Theatre in a musical about 19th century French artist Georges Seurat.
Showbusiness legends including Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr. and Carol Burnett have passed through the Hudson’s dressing rooms, as have a long line of rock bands and burlesque artists during the theater’s colorful 114-year history.
Its original owner Henry B. Harris died in 1912 on the RMS Titanic, while his wife made it onto the last lifeboat before the ship sank. CBS Radio broadcast from there from 1934 to 1943, and NBC network premiered its “Tonight Show” from the theater in 1954.
During the more seedy Sixties it hosted burlesque shows, and in the 1980s it became a venue for rock concerts. More recently, until 2015, it was used for special events by Millennium Hotels.
For its rebirth as a theater, the Hudson is staging ‘Sunday in the Park with George’, a revival of a 1984 Broadway production, based on the book by James Lapine, with music and lyrics written by Stephen Sondheim.
“I’m thrilled, thrilled to be making my Broadway musical debut here at the Hudson Theatre, and in a Sondheim and Lapine musical, so there’s no pressure,” Gyllenhaal said, to laughter from a crowd gathered outside the theater for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday night.
Gyllenhaal portrays Seurat as he paints his most famous work, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte”. Tony Award-winner Annaleigh Ashford, plays Seurat’s neglected lover Dot.
The production opens on February 23, and is scheduled to run through April 23.