|Address||235 West 50th St., Manhattan|
New York City
|Operator||Circle in the Square (Paul Libin, President)|
|Architect||Alan Sayles, Jules Fisher, consultant|
The Circle in the Square Theatre is a Broadway theater at 235 West 50th Street, in the basement of Paramount Plaza, in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. It is one of two Broadway theaters that use a thrust stage that extends into the audience on three sides.
The original Circle in the Square was founded by Theodore Mann, José Quintero, Jason Wingreen, Aileen Cramer and Emily Stevens in 1951 and was located at 5 Sheridan Square (a former nightclub) in Greenwich Village. The original Circle in the Square did not have a theater license, but Mann was able to get a cabaret license; the production staff and off duty actors served as waiters if anyone insisted on ordering food or drinks. Many of the theater personnel, both acting and technical, lived on the premises. Even classical performances took place here: Pianist Grete Sultan, who later became a well-known interpreter of New Music and was John Cage's close friend, performed the Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach at the theatre in January 1953. After directing several landmark productions at Circle in the Square, Jose Quintero left to work on other projects. His last production for Circle in the Square was Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under The Elms.The best known productions in the original theater were Tennessee Williams's Summer and Smoke, with Geraldine Page and Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, with Jason Robards.
Designed by architect Alan Sayles, the present home of the company is in the basement of the Paramount Plaza office tower. It is one of Paramount Plaza's two theaters, the other being the much larger Gershwin Theatre on the second floor. The theatre entrance lobbies are side by side but separated by a wall. It is designed to reflect the theatres of ancient Greece and Rome and citation needed][
The Gershwin and Circle in the Square were built in 1970 when the Uris Brothers tore down the Capitol Theatre to build the tower (with the Gershwin originally being called the Uris Theatre). Their first production on Broadway, a revival of Mourning Becomes Electra, opened on November 15, 1972. The theatre is below street level. It is one of only two Broadway houses with a thrust stage (the other is Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater).
The theatre operated as a non-profit, subscription-supported producing house for the next 25 years, but after a series of poor critical and financial returns, the company filed for bankruptcy in 1997. The theatre reopened in 1999, now operating as an independent commercial receiving house. Profits from the operation of the theatre are used to support the Circle in the Square Theatre School, the only accredited training conservatory associated with a Broadway theatre, which offers two two-year training programs in acting and musical theatre, and is located at the theatre.
The theatre was closed as of March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It reopened on September 23, 2021, with performances of Chicken & Biscuits, which ran through November 28, 2021.