Astor Place Theater - Blue Man Group

Art & Culture

Some bohemian history on an illustrious strip

astor place theater blue man group noho entertainment

About Astor Place Theater - Blue Man Group

 & why it made the Carpe City list

The Astor Place theater is an unpredictable little gem; it’s pure New York! You’re looking at signage for the “Blue Man Group,” but you’re also looking at a slew of formal columns. That’s because this is “Colonnade Row!” Erected in the 1830s by the Astor family, this was the most prestigious address in New York.

When fashion moved on, and the Astors moved out, many of the original 9 buildings on Colonnade Row were torn down. By 1965, when NYC got its Landmarks Law, just four of these buildings (the ones you now see before you) were still standing. They were promptly landmarked, and that same year, East Village entrepreneur and producer Bruce Mailman bought 434 Lafayette and converted it into the “Astor Place Theater.”

The Theater opened in 1968, showing the Israel Horvitz play “The Indian Wants the Bronx,” starring a young Al Pacino. Everyone from Terrance McNally to John Ford Noonan had shows here. And since 1991, the Theater has been home to the “Blue Man Group.” In fact, the Blue Men bought the building in 2001!

It’s fitting that “Blue Man Group” has performed at the Astor Place Theater for so long. The show was actually founded as “concept art” in New York. The original Blue Men held a “Funeral for the ’80s” in Central Park in 1988.

Carpe City Trivia

Fun fact:

Bruce Mailman founded the "Astor Place Theater" and also the "New York Theater Workshop" on East 4th Street. Additionally, he bought the legendary "Fillmore East" rock club on Second Avenue. He converted it into the equally legendary gay club "The Saint" that sparkled in this space from 1980-1987.

He even tried his hand at a new type of gay bathhouse, which he opened on St. Marks in the '80s, but it was shut down in 1985. The late, great Mailman was taken way too soon. He died of AIDS in 1994, at the age of 55.

By: Lucie Levine

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