When the first worker cleaning the artwork at the legendary Beacon Theatre put a wet sponge up to the ceiling of the famed venue the sponge immediately turned black. Eighty years as a movie theater and rock hall on Manhattan’s Upper West Side takes a major toll on a building, especially after three Phish shows, countless Phil Lesh gigs and 175 Allman Brothers shows.
[All photos by Adam Kaufman]
It was clear to anyone who could see beyond the dirt, grime and decay that underneath it all the Beacon was full of beautiful artwork and vivid details. After seven months and $16 million worth of painstaking renovations the Beacon Theatre has finally been restored to its former glory.
The Dolan’s MSG Entertainment is now two for two when it comes to restoring iconic venues after all of the love they put into the Beacon this time around and Radio City Music Hall in 1999. Project Manager Marc Tarozzi researched how the venue looked when it opened in 1929 and his team succeeded at restoring the Beacon to its original 1929 grandeur.
Here’s a list of all the changes they made…
- Richly detailed Rotunda Lobby, including restoration of the “scagliola” faux marble wainscot and recreation of the long-lost mural over the entrance doors
- Historic finishes in the lobbies at each theater level
- Original historic seats and custom patterned carpet based on the original designs
- Polychromatic, Moorish-inspired “tent-like” main theater ceiling
- All murals throughout theatre to original design
READ ON for more photos and information about the Beacon’s reopening…
- Sunburst proscenium valence that runs along perimeter of auditorium ceiling, including renovation of the original back-lit lighting effects
- One-of-a-kind sculptures of animals; masks; urns; statues of Greek martial women, and instruments of war that decorate the sides of the proscenium arch
- Original ornate lighting fixtures and chandeliers
- Richly ornate cornices, ceiling molding and paneling, and marble baseboards
- Decorative elements including pilasters, scrolled brackets and medallions
- Walls and ceilings to their original glazed finish
- Original, thirty-foot high Venetian-inspired chandelier and re-activating the original integral lighting effects
- Replacing entire stage flooring
- Acoustic improvements including upgraded sound system and installation of additional speakers
- Upgraded concession stands and renovated public restrooms
- Renovation of all backstage dressing rooms and creation of a first-ever Star Dressing room and Green room
When a group of reporters were led from the lobby into the main auditorium there were a number of audible gasps and “wows” at how beautiful the place looked. The 2,800 seat theatre was named a landmark in 1979 which helped preserve the “bones” of the venue giving Tarozzi and his team a nice base to start with. They left no stone unturned from new seats to new concession stands to an incredible new audio system to restoring historic finishes and color schemes to redoing the backstage facilities.
The general public will get to the see the result of seven months of hard work this evening when the Beacon Theatre reopens with a performance from NYC-native Paul Simon. Besides Simon’s performances tonight and tomorrow, other upcoming shows at the Beacon include the Allman Brothers Band’s annual run, Leonard Cohen’s first American gig in quite a while and two Van Morrison performances where Van The Man will play Astral Weeks in its entirety. Keep your eyes on the Glidemag Twitter for tweets live from both the Red Carpet Arrivals and the Paul Simon concert this evening.
- Previously on HT: Beacon Theatre Coverage
Let’s take a look at more of Adam Kaufman’s pictures of Beacon…