Lucille Lortel Theater

Art & Culture

The Queen of Off-Broadway’s Palace

Lucille Lortel theater exterior greenwich village arts

About Lucille Lortel Theater

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • Only in New York can you stop off for top-notch theater between visits to Big Gay Ice Cream and the Stonewall Inn. 
  • Performances at the Lucille Lortel Theater are experiences you won’t get on Broadway, but that’s the point. It is an Off-Broadway theater.  
    • Look out for the walk of fame outside the theater devoted to the playwrights with work performed here and at other Off-Broadway theaters in New York City. 
    • The Lucille Lortel Theater, built in the 1920s, initially served as a movie theater but was converted into an Off-Broadway theater, under the name Theatre de Lys, in 1955.  
  • Its claim-to-fame came with a 2,707-show run of the Three Penny Opera, which featured big stars like Ed Asner, Charlotte Rae, Bea Arthur, Jerry Orbach, John Astin, and Jerry Stiller.  
    • The show ran from 1955 – 1961, a record in New York City at the time. 

Carpe City Trivia

Who was Lucille Lortel?

  • Lortel was an actress, experimental theater producer, and theatrical pioneer, born in New York City in 1900. She made her Broadway debut in 1925 and founded the White Barn Theater in Westport, Connecticut, 20 years later.  
  • The theater on Christopher Street, a present from her husband in 1955, was renamed in her honor in 1981.  
  • She lived to be 99, and produced work up to the very end, known affectionately by all who knew her as “The Queen of Off-Broadway.” 

White Barn THeater Lucile Lortel
Photo By: Francisco Coradal-Cougat

By: Lucie Levine

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