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MTC History

1970

  • Manhattan Theatre Club is incorporated. Its first home is a three-story space on East 73rd Street.
  • A.E. Jeffcoat becomes MTC’s Chairman of the Board.

1972

  • Lynne Meadow is hired as MTC’s Artistic Director.

1973

  • New York Theater Strategy: twenty-three plays by the best Off-Broadway playwrights are produced in six weeks, including the World Premiere of Bad Habits by Terrence McNally (Obie Award), Chicago and Unseen Hand by Sam Shepard, and Schubert’s Last Serenade by Julie Bovasso with Robert de Niro.
  • MTC receives its first grant from The Shubert Foundation, one of the major providers of general operating support for institutional theaters, an early recognition of the importance of MTC’s mission.

1975

  • Barry Grove is hired as Managing Director. Thirty years later, he is MTC’s Executive Producer, and his ongoing partnership with Lynne Meadow is one of the most long-standing in the non-profit community.
  • MTC’s first collaboration with Richard Wesley, The Past is the Past.

1976

  • MTC’s first collaboration with A.R. Gurney, Jr., the World Premiere of Children, with Nancy Marchand and Swoosie Kurtz.
  • Lynne Meadow directs award-winning Ashes by David Rudkin, in an American Premiere co-production with The Public Theatre. The show eventually moves to The Public and becomes the first transfer of an MTC production.

1977

  • MTC receives its first major multi-year grant from The Ford Foundation.
  • Production of Athol Fugard’s Boesman and Lena.

1978

  • MTC’s first Challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts spurred the organization’s efforts to raise funds from all sectors, as every dollar raised was partially matched by the NEA.
  • World Premiere of Ain’t Misbehavin’, a revue of Fats Waller’s songs directed by Richard Maltby, Jr. in MTC’s Cabaret, with Nell Carter, Andre DeShields, and Irene Cara. The show moves to Broadway and wins the Tony Award for Best Musical, marking MTC’s first high profile musical success.
  • American Premiere of Athol Fugard’s Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act.

1980

  • New York Premiere of Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Crimes of the Heart, the first of five collaborations with Henley. In November 1981, Crimes moves to Broadway.
  • American Premiere of Translations by Brian Friel with Barnard Hughes.

1982

  • Lynne Meadow directs the New York Premiere of Sally and Marsha by Sybille Pearson, with Christine Baranski and Bernadette Peters in her first New York City stage appearance in eight years.
  • World Premiere of Gardenia by John Guare, directed by Karel Reisz, and featuring James Woods, JoBeth Williams, and Sam Waterston.
  • American Premiere of The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs by Simone Benmussa, with Glenn Close (Obie Award).

1983

  • American Premiere of Edward Bond’s Summer, directed by Doug Hughes, features the New York stage debut of David Hyde Pierce.
  • Edwin C. Cohen becomes Chairman of the Board.

1984

  • American Premiere of Other Places, a series of one-acts by Harold Pinter, including A Kind of Alaska with Dianne Weist (Obie Award).
  • New York Premiere of The Miss Firecracker Contest by Beth Henley with Holly Hunter and Patricia Richardson.
  • Manhattan Theatre Club moves its theatre to the lower level of City Center in midtown Manhattan, and its administrative offices to West 16th Street.

1986

  • World premiere of It’s Only a Play by Terrence McNally, with James Coco and Christine Baranski. MTC’s revival of Joe Orton’s Loot, featuring Kevin Bacon and Zoe Wanamaker and directed by John Tillinger, moves to Broadway. By the mid-80’s, MTC had established itself as a premier producer of important British contemporary theatre in the United States, with well-received productions of plays by writers like Orton, Harold Pinter, and Alan Ayckbourn.
  • The World Premiere of Women of Manhattan, MTC’s first collaboration with John Patrick Shanley.
  • Paul B. Kopperl joins Edwin C. Cohn as Co-Chairman of the Board.

1987

  • World Premiere of Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune by Terrence McNally, with Kathy Bates (Obie Award), moves to the Westside Arts Theatre, and is subsequently made into a movie with Al Pacino and Michele Pfeiffer.

1988

  • American Premiere of Woman in Mind by Alan Ayckbourn, directed by Lynne Meadow, with Stockard Channing (Drama Desk Award).
  • New York Premiere of Eastern Standard by Richard Greenberg, featuring Anne Meara, follows a sold-out run at MTC by moving to Broadway.
  • World Premiere of Italian-American Reconciliation by John Patrick Shanley, with Laura San Giacomo, John Turturro, and John Pankow.

1989

  • MTC launches its Education Program at Urban Academy and Wagner Junior High School in Manhattan. The program has since grown to include six separate initiatives, thousands of students and over forty schools.
  • American Premiere of Brian Friel’s Aristocrats at Theatre Four, the first time MTC independently opens a show outside its home theatre that goes on to have an extended run.
  • The Lisbon Traviata by Terrence McNally, directed by John Tillinger, with Nathan Lane, moves to the Promenade Theatre for an extended run.

1990

  • MTC adopts the Long Range Plan, a comprehensive statement of the theatre’s goals for the next five years, including the creation of an Artistic Reserve Fund to encourage play development, a Production Transfer Fund to help underwrite extensions of successful productions, and the expansion of the Education Program.
  • World Premiere of The American Plan by Richard Greenberg.
  • MTC joins with the Yale Repertory Company to bring the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Piano Lesson by August Wilson to Broadway.
  • Michael Coles becomes Chairman of the Board.

1991

  • A third NEA Challenge grant helps MTC establish the Artistic Reserve Fund called for in the Long Range Plan.
  • MTC establishes its Playwriting Fellowships, which bring two early-career playwrights to MTC for a year-long residency.
  • MTC receives a major multi-year grant from the Lila Wallace – Reader’s Digest Fund to support the creation of an extension fund and other audience development initiatives.
  • New York Premiere of Absent Friends by Alan Ayckbourn and directed by Lynne Meadow features Gillian Anderson in her professional stage debut.
  • World Premiere of Lips Together, Teeth Apart by Terrence McNally, with Christine Baranski, Nathan Lane, Swoosie Kurtz, and Anthony Heald begins a sold out Stage I run and moves to the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

1992

  • Donald Margulies’ Sight Unseen, with Laura Linney and Dennis Boutsikaris (Obie Award) transfers to an open-ended run at the Orpheum Theatre.
  • American Premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s A Small Family Business, with Brian Murray. It becomes the first MTC production directly produced on Broadway.

1993

  • Manhattan Theatre Club receives a significant grant from the Alliance for New American Musicals (funded in part by Cameron Mackintosh, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and David Geffen), and establishes the Musical Theatre Program.
  • The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust makes the largest multi-year grant in the history of MTC, partially supporting two productions each season as well as a portion of the Education Program.
  • World Premiere of The Last Yankee by Arthur Miller, directed by John Tillinger, with John Heard and Frances Conroy (Obie Award).
  • New York Premiere of Playland by Athol Fugard, with Kevin Spacey.
  • World Premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s Four Dogs and a Bone, with Tony Roberts, Loren Dean, Mary-Louise Parker, and Polly Draper moves to the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
  • Lynne Meadow directs The Loman Family Picnic by Donald Margulies, with Christine Baranski and Peter Friedman.
  • New York Premiere of Charlayne Woodard’s Pretty Fire.
  • American Premiere of Putting It Together, a revue of the songs of Stephen Sondheim, brings Julie Andrews back to the New York Stage after an absence of more than 30 years.

1994

  • World Premiere of Terrence McNally’s Love! Valour! Compassion! with Nathan Lane moves to Broadway and wins the 1995 Tony Award for Best Play.

1995

  • Anne Meara’s debut play, After-Play, features Barbara Barrie and Rue McClanahan, and moves to Theatre Four for an extended run.
  • A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, with Sarah Jessica Parker, moves to the John Houseman Theatre, and goes on to become the most produced play of the 1996-1997 season. To date, there have been 108 professional productions all over the world.

1996

  • Actress and playwright Leslie Ayvazian’s powerful Nine Armenians, directed by Lynne Meadow and featuring Kathleen Chalfant, receives wide acclaim for its moving picture of an Armenian-American girl’s search for her cultural roots.
  • MTC co-produces the New York Premiere of August Wilson’s Seven Guitars on Broadway.
  • New York premiere of Athol Fugard’s Valley Song with Lisa Gay Hamilton.

1997

  • The MTC Education Program launches TheatreLink, a one-of-a-kind Internet program that uses a specially designed website to guide schools across the country through a playwriting/production project. The program has tripled in size since the pilot period, and now involves nine schools from as far away as Oregon, California, and Florida.
  • In the first step of a major expansion, MTC moves its administrative offices and rehearsal rooms to a state-of-the-art, two floor space near Times Square. Called “The Creative Center”, this new space is envisioned as a focal point for artistic development, including readings, workshops, and rehearsals.
  • MTC receives a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to provide increased compensation to artists, which enables the theatre to raise fees by an average of 34% over two years.
  • MTC’s acclaimed production of Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories with Debra Messing and Maria Tucci enjoys an extended run in Stage I.
  • World Premiere of Psychopathia Sexualis by John Patrick Shanley with Andrew McCarthy and Edward Herrmann, directed by Daniel Sullivan.
  • World Premiere of Sam Shepard’s Eyes for Consuela with David Strathairn.
  • Seeking the Genesis by Kia Corthron, one of MTC’s first Playwriting Fellows.

1998

  • MTC brings music to Stage II with Manhattan Music: A Performance Festival, a series of cabaret performances by James Naughton, Mary Cleere Haran, and the a cappella group Hot Mouth.
  • Power Plays, by and featuring Elaine May and Alan Arkin, enjoys an extended run at the Promenade Theatre.

1999

  • As part of its continuing expansion, MTC secures new shop space in Queens, which gives the theatre, for the first time, adequate shop space for the construction of its sophisticated sets.
  • A major gift from The Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Foundation endows MTC’s internship program, The Paul A. Kaplan Theatre Management Program.
  • MTC seeks out creative partnerships to reach new artists and new audiences, joining with Laura Pels Productions to produce a new translation of lauded French writer Jean-Claude Carriere’s La Terrasse.
  • MTC collaborates with the exciting new theatre company, The New Group to present the American Premiere of Ayub Khan-Din’s debut play, East is East.
  • MTC co-produces Conor McPherson’s Olivier-winning The Weir on Broadway.
  • Peter J. Solomon becomes Chairman of the Board.

2000

  • MTC greets the Millennium with exciting works by emerging talents like Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Fuddy Meers), as well as well-known writers like Arthur Kopit (Y2K).
  • MTC enjoys a significant milestone. Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife starring Linda Lavin, Tony Roberts and Michele Lee opens on Broadway. Lynne Meadow directs. Also making the transfer to Broadway, Mary-Louise Parker in David Auburn’s Proof, directed by Daniel Sullivan.

2001

  • Proof and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife are joined on Broadway with MTC’s A Class Act and the MTC co-production of King Hedley II.
  • David Auburn’s Proof becomes the third MTC production to garner the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
  • Manhattan Theatre Club receives a total of twenty Tony Award nominations for the four Broadway productions.
  • Plans are announced to restore the historic Biltmore Theatre giving MTC a permanent home on Broadway.

2002

  • Teams of workers, craftsmen and artisans attend to the re-creation of the 77-year-old Biltmore Theatre, from the repair and replication of the historic ornate plaster, to the addition of modernized facilities and building systems, to the excavation of 19 feet of Manhattan bedrock in order to create a functional and stylish lower level.

2003

  • Richard Greenberg’s The Violet Hour premieres as MTC’s inaugural Biltmore production. The season ends with the Broadway premiere of Sight Unseen featuring Laura Linney and Ben Shenkman.

2004

  • MTC produces John Patrick Shanley’s riveting Doubt, directed by Doug Hughes. Featuring a glorious cast led by Tony Award winners Cherry Jones and Brían F. O’Byrne, this highly acclaimed production and winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama delighted audiences nightly on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

2005

  • MTC receives 10 Tony Award nominations: 8 for Doubt, and Best Actress nominations for Laura Linney (Sight Unseen) and Mary-Louise Parker (Craig Lucas’ Reckless).

2006

  • David Lindsey-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole has its Broadway Premiere at the Biltmore. Cynthia Nixon wins the 2006 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play and the play is awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

2007

  • LoveMusik directed by Harold Prince and featuring Tony Award winners Michael Cerveris and Donna Murphy as Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya is the first world premiere musical to be produced at MTC’s Biltmore Theatre.

2008

  • MTC’s Biltmore Theatre is re-named the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre after the pioneering Broadway publicist.

2009

  • Lynn Nottage’s Ruined wins the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and becomes the most acclaimed new play of the year.

2010

  • David C. Hodgson becomes Chairman of the Board.

2011

  • Frances McDormand wins the Tony Award for Best Actress for her role in Good People.

2012

  • Stage II reopens with Murder Ballad.
  • Nina Arianda wins the Tony Award for Best Actress for her role in Venus in Fur.

2013

  • Judith Light wins the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress for her role in The Assembled Parties.

2015

  • Constellations and Fool for Love are both featured in the New York Times top 10 list.