The Helen Hayes Theater—formerly known as The Little Theater—is the smallest theater on Broadway, with a seating capacity just shy of 600. It was bought three years ago by the Second Stage Theater Company, one of just a handful nonprofit theater companies that own and operate theaters on Broadway. It will showcase work by living American playwrights amidst a sea of mostly big musicals and shows.
It first opened in 1912 and 106 years later, it’s been remodeled by architect David Rockwell. The touches that stood out for me were the blue ombré walls with the lighting fixtures and the velvet chairs in copper.
While “Frozen” was running previews next door at the St. James Theater—with capacity of around 1,700—“Lobby Hero” was doing the same at the Hayes.
Lobby Hero, the work of playwright, director, screenwriter and Oscar winner (he won for “Manchester by the Sea”) Kenneth Lonergan’s will kick off Second Stage Theater’s inaugural Broadway season at the Hayes this spring. Chris Evans (“Captain America”) will make his Broadway debut in the production alongside Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Cera (“Scott Pilgrim”) and Bel Powley.
Cera plays Jeff, a 27-year-old security guard in Manhattan apartment complex, Henry the former’s his hard working, stern, yet trying to be well-meaning boss, William. Evans is a macho police officer named Bill and Powley is his female rookie charge, Dawn.
The play is both a comedy and a drama, which hits some dark territory as part of the plot involves a murder investigation. The relationships between each of the characters—who holds “power” over the other in different situations is examined, as well as how a conflict in what people value more (camaraderie vs. telling the truth, wanting to be liked vs. self-respect) can result in cover ups, mix ups and unhappy reckonings.
Clearly, everyone wants to know how Chris Evans did. He and the rest of the cast did very well as a whole. Don’t force me to mention a standout. The posters on the train and the Playbill show Evans without a mustache. That mustache and that New York accent reminded me so much of the mustache and accent of James Franco in HBO’s “The Deuce.” That mustache I felt deserved a mention in the credits. Since it didn’t, it will have to do with a mention here.
Previews for “Lobby Hero” started March 1, opening night is Monday, March 26 and it runs until Sunday, May 13.