After months of rumors predicting its demise, the Promenade Theater, the 399-seat Off Broadway venue on the Upper West Side, will shut its doors for good Sunday when the theater’s current tenant, “Tryst,” ends it run.
“It will be converted for alternate use,” said theater co-owner Ben Sprecher, adding that there is indeed truth to the whispers that the venue will make way for a branch of the cosmetics chain Sephora.
The loss of the Promenade comes on the heels of a number of Off Broadway closings, including the shuttering of Playhouse 91 on the Upper East Side and the impending eviction of the Lamb’s Theater Company from its midtown home.
Sprecher was co-owner of Off Broadway’s Variety Arts when it closed in 2004. In addition, he operates the 499-seat Little Shubert, which has had trouble drawing both tenants and auds.
He said he made the final decision about the Promenade on Tuesday, after wrestling with it for months. “The economics of a 399-seat Off Broadway do not work. Period. Categorically,” he said.
The producer added he will concentrate on the Little Shubert, as well as on his Broadway prospects, including “Legends!” and a possible Rialto incarnation of the Kevin Spacey starrer “Moon for the Misbegotten,” which begins performances at the Old Vic in London in September.
The current spate of venue closings follows a building boom that saw the creation of a handful of Off Broadway multiplexes such as New World Stages and 37 Arts. Many legiters see the shutterings as the equalization of a tough market that does not have enough product to fill all its open venues.
Since it opened in 1969, the Promenade, one of Off Broadway’s larger spaces, has hosted productions of “In Trousers,” “The Lisbon Traviata,” “Hurlyburly,” “Three Tall Women” and “The Unexpected Man,” among others.