As 2013 draws to a close and New Yorkers are filled with Christmas cheer (please, can the “christmas” music stop?), this week’s venue review offers a rare trip to the Upper West Side to one of the city’s grandest sights. As an added bonus, they also know how to spell theatre properly.
The Beacon is located at 2124 Broadway. You can take the 1/2/3 to 72nd Street or the B/C line to the other 72nd Street station.
The theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, although bizarrely in 1986, there was a proposal to turn the venue into a nightclub. That proposal was blocked by a judge, due to the irreparable damage that would be caused to the building’s architecture. Somehow I can’t quite imagine people throwing shapes and having bad trips here…
There is a security check at the doors and I had to throw out my sealed bottle of water, but that’s ok because they sell bottles of water for a bargain $4.50 inside… (it’s worth noting that’s still 50 cents cheaper than a bottle of water at Webster Hall!)
Once inside, the lobby isn’t too shabby.
If you want to drink, I can only really advise to do so beforehand; read these prices and weep. And to think, a bud is $8.50, $4 more expensive than a water, for what is essentially the same thing! I know this is a highbrow place, but wow. Double-digits for a Blue Moon…
Once you can go in and take your seat, there are three levels available: Orchestra, lodge, and upper balcony giving a total capacity of around 2,800.
The interior really is glorious; neo-Grec decor is the order of the day, with a couple of goddesses looking rather menacing at the proscenium (a good job description for a deity.)
The venue has a reputation for good acoustics, and they are well justified, the sound was pristine when I visited (save for the talkers in the audience.) Originally designed to showcase silent movies in 1926, the building’s opening was delayed and eventually opened its doors on the 24th of December 1929. At that point, silent films were suffocating as a form of entertainment (pun intended.) It’s main purpose was as a movie theatre up until to the mid 70’s when it began hosting concerts. It’s perhaps fortuitous that the room does resonate so splendidly when backed with an array of amplifiers, and ok, the WFUV holiday cheer was hardly a loud rock show, but there were probably 15 or so people on stage at times, and they were all crystal clear.
The Beacon is currently promoted by MSG Entertainment (and has been since 2006), who also run Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. I assume that along with myself, It’s fair to guess that most MSL readers don’t make regular trips here, or to sit-down theatre shows in general, but if the occasion arises one can see how the other half lives (albeit probably soberly, crying into our $4.50 water.)
Keep up to date with upcoming shows at the Beacon HERE.