A 32-Year Journey to Hell’s Kitchen | Modern Society of USA

A 32-Year Journey to Hell’s Kitchen

A 32-Year Journey to Hell’s Kitchen

Bernie Telsey was still a student at N.Y.U. when he met an actor named Robert LuPone and decided to form a theater club. Their duo became a trio when they met Will Cantler, and soon they were putting on shows whenever and wherever they could.

That was more than three decades ago, and over the years the company they founded — now called MCC Theater, with a focus on new work by living writers — has become one of the more respected Off Broadway nonprofits, attracting such stars as Lucas Hedges, Judith Light and Zachary Quinto to its stages.

But they have never had their own building, until now. On Jan. 23, the box office opens at their first permanent home, on West 52nd Street at 10th Avenue, with two theaters, two rehearsal studios, and all the amenities (including a bar) one has come to expect from a modern theater. “To have a home, it’s mind-boggling,” Mr. Telsey said.

The $45 million project has been a long time coming, and brings MCC into a corner of Hell’s Kitchen with a growing number of performing arts organizations.

MCC’s leadership first saw the space in 2007, but construction was repeatedly delayed by real estate and regulatory complications.

The new building has contemporary amenities that matter for theatermakers, like dressing rooms and a wardrobe office, and allows the company to consolidate work that had been spread across the city, including its administrative offices and its youth company. The hope: more creative interaction between professionals and aspiring artists.

The first two shows are almost ready for patrons. “The Light,” a play about a marriage proposal by Loy A. Webb, begins performances Wednesday in the smaller theater. “Alice by Heart,” a musical inspired by “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and created by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik of “Spring Awakening” with Jessie Nelson of “Waitress,” begins performances in the larger theater on Jan. 30.

One sign the theater is almost ready: the bar already features a list of dedicated cocktails, including Down the Rabbit Hole for “Alice by Heart” — vodka, strawberry, lime, hibiscus syrup and bitters.

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