Brooks Atkinson Theatre
The theatre, originally named for the great American actor Richard Mansfield, opened its doors in 1926. The Mansfield, which started off slowly, had its first big hit with Marc Connelly’s Pulitzer-Prize winning “The Green Pastures” (1930). This success was followed by a long drought. One bright spot was the transfer from a small theatre in Harlem of “Anna Lucasta” (1944), a drama of African-American family life in a small industrial town. The house came under new ownership in 1945 and was subsequently leased to CBS Television in 1950.
The theatre was returned to live performances in 1960, when it was renamed in honor of Brooks Atkinson, long-time drama critic of The New York Times. Neil Simon’s first Broadway play, “Come Blow Your Horn”(1961), opened here, as did Rolf Hochhuth’s controversial play “The Deputy” (1964). The long-running “Same Time Next Year” opened in 1975, and “Tally’s Folly” won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize. Outstanding British imports have played the Atkinson, among them “The Dresser” (1981), “Noises Off” (1985), and “Shadowlands” (1991).
Spanish motifs are readily evident in the façade of the Atkinson: the red tile roof, the spiral columns in the three Palladian archways, and the terra-cotta surrounds and modillions. The main design influence of the theatre’s interior echoes the exterior in being modern Spanish. The interior also incorporates lavishly painted-and-gilded plasterwork, including, above the box areas, murals depicting figures from the commedia dell-arte.