Lucille Lortel Theatre

The Lucille Lortel Theatre is an off-Broadway playhouse at 121 Christopher Street in Manhattan's West Village. It was built in 1926 as a 590-seat movie theater called the New Hudson, later known as Hudson Playhouse. The interior is largely unchanged to this day.

Lucille Lortel Theatre
Theatre de Lys
Address121 Christopher Street
Manhattan, New York City
OwnerLucille Lortel Foundation
OpenedJune 9, 1953

In the early 1950s, the site was converted to an off-Broadway theater as Theatre de Lys, opening on June 9, 1953, with a production of Maya, a play by Simon Gantillon starring Kay Medford, Vivian Matalon, and Susan Strasberg.[1] It closed after seven performances. Much more successful was The Threepenny Opera which opened March 10, 1954, with a cast that included Bea Arthur, John Astin, Lotte Lenya, Leon Lishner, Scott Merrill, Gerald Price, Charlotte Rae and Jo Sullivan.[2] Because of an incoming booking, it was forced to close after 96 performances. Re-opening September 20, 1955, with largely the same cast, The Threepenny Opera this time played until December 17, 1961, a then record-setting run for a musical in New York City.[3]

In 1955, financier Louis Schweitzer acquired the building as an anniversary present for his wife, actress-producer Lucille Lortel. In 1981, the year of her 81st birthday, the theatre was renamed in her honor. After Lortel's death, the theatre was left to the Lucille Lortel Foundation.[4]

Notable productions

  • In 1970, the theatre was used in "Manhattan Manhunt", a first-season episode of McCloud. It used both interior and an exterior shots with the original marquee "Theatre de Lys".
  • In 1996–97, for the TV comedy Friends , the theatre was used for the filming of 3 episodes of season 3: episode 19 ("The One with the Tiny T-Shirt"), episode 20 ("The One with the Dollhouse"), and episode 22 ("The One with the Screamer"), which guest-starred Ben Stiller as Rachel's crazy boyfriend Tommy.


  • Official website
  • Lucille Lortel Theatre at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Lucille Lortel Theatre at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  • Saia, Stephanie (1981). "Lucille Lortel in front of the theatre named for her (formerly the Theatre de Lys)". Digital Collections. NYPL. 484825.
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