A Floating Lightbulb

The spirits of Richmond Crinkley and Joseph Papp must have shared a heavenly laugh last week over the announcement that, following the disappointing run of “Racing Demon,” the Vivian Beaumont Theater would shutter until next fall for a renovation. Both Papp, who died in 1991, and Crinkley, who died in 1989, had nasty things to say about Lincoln Center’s most beautiful yet treacherous theater.

In the mid-’70s, Papp ran the Beaumont (along with the smaller Mitzi E. Newhouse) as an uptown outpost of the New York Shakespeare Festival, mounting any number of memorable productions there before returning full-time to the Public. When Crinkley took over in 1980, he produced several unmemorable shows – including Woody Allen’s “The Floating Lightbulb” – before closing the Beaumont and demanding millions to renovate the theater. Soon he was out, and in 1985 half the present regime – executive producer Bernard Gersten – took over, first with Gregory Mosher as artistic director and, since 1991, with Andre Bishop in that role.

When I reported Gersten’s plan to spend $5 million on a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for the Beaumont and improvements to the lighting system (Variety, April 3-9,1995), it was noted as part of a three-year, $12 million capital campaign that also included a $5 million endowment and a $2 million reserve fund.

But the acclaimed “Racing Demon” failed to ignite, struggling through its slated run through New Year’s Eve. Hence, the renovation begins, and once again, the Beaumont is dark. The $5 million won’t be used to resolve the problems that once inspired the wrath of directors, designers and the weary actors who have trod that football-field size stage. In truth, the designers themselves have used their own cunning, creativity and ingenuity to work things out.

More Legit

  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

    'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' Stage Musical in the Works

    The spirits of Richmond Crinkley and Joseph Papp must have shared a heavenly laugh last week over the announcement that, following the disappointing run of “Racing Demon,” the Vivian Beaumont Theater would shutter until next fall for a renovation. Both Papp, who died in 1991, and Crinkley, who died in 1989, had nasty things to […]

  • Joe Morton

    Joe Morton, Daphne Rubin-Vega Among Rebel Verses Guest Performers (EXCLUSIVE)

    The spirits of Richmond Crinkley and Joseph Papp must have shared a heavenly laugh last week over the announcement that, following the disappointing run of “Racing Demon,” the Vivian Beaumont Theater would shutter until next fall for a renovation. Both Papp, who died in 1991, and Crinkley, who died in 1989, had nasty things to […]

  • The Lehman Trilogy review

    London Theater Review: 'The Lehman Trilogy,' Directed by Sam Mendes

    The spirits of Richmond Crinkley and Joseph Papp must have shared a heavenly laugh last week over the announcement that, following the disappointing run of “Racing Demon,” the Vivian Beaumont Theater would shutter until next fall for a renovation. Both Papp, who died in 1991, and Crinkley, who died in 1989, had nasty things to […]

  • elizabeth perkins First Time in Variety

    Elizabeth Perkins on Her Early Film, Stage Roles

    The spirits of Richmond Crinkley and Joseph Papp must have shared a heavenly laugh last week over the announcement that, following the disappointing run of “Racing Demon,” the Vivian Beaumont Theater would shutter until next fall for a renovation. Both Papp, who died in 1991, and Crinkley, who died in 1989, had nasty things to […]

  • 'Mary Page Marlowe' Review: Tatiana Maslany

    Off Broadway Review: 'Mary Page Marlowe'

    The spirits of Richmond Crinkley and Joseph Papp must have shared a heavenly laugh last week over the announcement that, following the disappointing run of “Racing Demon,” the Vivian Beaumont Theater would shutter until next fall for a renovation. Both Papp, who died in 1991, and Crinkley, who died in 1989, had nasty things to […]

  • Bruce Springsteen on Broadway

    Bruce Springsteen Plays First-Ever Encore at Broadway Show (Watch)

    The spirits of Richmond Crinkley and Joseph Papp must have shared a heavenly laugh last week over the announcement that, following the disappointing run of “Racing Demon,” the Vivian Beaumont Theater would shutter until next fall for a renovation. Both Papp, who died in 1991, and Crinkley, who died in 1989, had nasty things to […]

  • Orphan Black

    Listen: Tatiana Maslany Would Do an 'Orphan Black' Reunion on One Condition

    The spirits of Richmond Crinkley and Joseph Papp must have shared a heavenly laugh last week over the announcement that, following the disappointing run of “Racing Demon,” the Vivian Beaumont Theater would shutter until next fall for a renovation. Both Papp, who died in 1991, and Crinkley, who died in 1989, had nasty things to […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content