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Peekin' at Beacon

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Peekin' at Beacon
Seats at the Beacon Theatre
We recently dropped by the legendary Beacon Theatre to check out its $16M restoration. (With all the empty seats, imagine the line for the lavatory.) Owner Madison Square Garden, architect Beyer Blinder Belle, contractor Lehr Construction, and project manager Jones Lang LaSalle have finished returning it to its original glory. The 1929 theater, once an ornate space that combined Greek and Roman architectural styles, had fallen into a state of disrepair.
MSG's Ricahrd Claffey inside Beacon Theater
MSG’s Richard Claffey tells us that it was a special project because the theater had been declared a landmark in 1979. It included refurbishing the carpet and seats to the way they were 80 years ago, redesigning the lobby, and restoring all of the ornate decorations. JLL’s Randy Apfelbaum, tells us the challenge to restore or renovate practically every square inch of the theater to recreate the original design, all during a six-month closure, succeeded beyond any expectations.
Ceiling mural of the Beacon Theater
For one, the theater’s ceiling mural was dulled from years of cigar and cigarette smokers (which, to the building’s future benefit, is no longer allowed), Richard says. But there was one special request, from ramblin’ man Gregg Allman, to still keep some of the traditional rock ‘n’ roll feel. After all, the Allman Brothers have played there every year, including a recent 15-show run to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Richard tells us that the restoration, including renovations to the acoustic system and dressing rooms, received Gregg’s stamp of approval.
Peekin' at Beacon
Painstakingly restored was the lobby’s mural, recreated from a photograph. (We had quite the stiff neck after viewing all the restorations!) What's next for the theater? Richard tells us that it will be bringing in Cirque du Soleil for a contemporary vaudeville show in ’10, which is being previewed in MSG’s Chicago Theatre, and bringing in more live theatricals and other special events. JLL is also managing Madison Square Garden’s own $500M phased renovations that recently broke ground, anticipating a ’11-’12 season completion.