2 theater companies cheer as they open new stages

Associated Press Modified: October 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm •  Published: October 1, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Stage actors always seem to get the attention in New York. On Monday, it was the turn of the stages themselves to take a bow.

The Pearl Theatre had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate moving into its new home near Times Square, while the Atlantic Theater Company reopened its main stage in Chelsea after an $8.3 million renovation.

Atlantic founding members and married couple Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy were on hand to celebrate the company's roomier home, singing every title produced over the Atlantic's 27-year life as Macy strummed a ukulele.

"It's a magnificent theater. New York is the better for it and there's going to be some magic in that place, trust me," Macy said outside the theater. "There's going to be a lot of magic made in those four walls."

The Atlantic, founded in 1985 by David Mamet and several New York University drama graduates, has produced more than 130 plays, including the Tony Award-winning productions of "Spring Awakening" and "The Beauty Queen of Leenane."

Its facelift included the renovation of 6,300 square feet of space containing the 199-seat main stage, the expansion of a 5,100-square-foot basement to create an enlarged lobby with new restrooms, a new box office, improved handicap access, a prop-building workshop, a costume shop and backstage support offices.

"It's like the brand new tree house you get to go into when you're 10 years old and you've been building it all summer with your dad. It's finally finished and you get to go in and sit and have your first cup of tea. That's what today is like. It's pretty fantastic," said Giancarlo Esposito, the "Breaking Bad" and "Homicide: Life on the Streets" star who has been a member for almost 20 years.

Other stars who attended Atlantic's event included Raul Esparza, F. Murray Abraham, Eloise Mumford, Zach Grenier, Carolyn McCormick and Richard Kind.

The first play to open in the new space will be the New York premiere of "Harper Regan" by Simon Stephens. It stars Atlantic member Mary McCann and officially opens Oct. 10.

The Atlantic moved into its current home — a nineteenth century church in Chelsea — 22 years ago and felt it was time to modernize.

"We never expected we would be here this long," said Neil Pepe, Atlantic's artistic director. "When we realized we were going to be here this long, we wanted to make this beautiful space even better and we wanted to make it more hospitable to the artists, the patrons, the audiences and the community."

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