Second Stage to Leave Its Rem Koolhaas-Designed Off Broadway Theater

Second Stage Theater, a leading nonprofit that presents work by living American writers both on and off Broadway, is giving up its Rem Koolhaas-designed Off Broadway home in a former bank near Times Square, saying its rent was too high and its lease had unfavorable terms.

The theater company, which has nurtured multiple Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning shows over the years, until recently operated three theaters: the Hayes Theater on Broadway, an Off Off Broadway space on the Upper West Side and an Off Broadway theater, the Tony Kiser Theater, in a former bank building at the corner of West 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue.

Last year, Second Stage gave up the lease on its Off Off Broadway space. Now it is also relinquishing the Kiser Theater, a 296-seat theater space where it has been presenting plays and musicals since 1999. The Broadway house has been unaffected by the changes. The company said it was committed to continuing to produce work Off Broadway, and was searching for a new place in which to do so.

Second Stage is letting go of the Kiser at a time of significant strain on nonprofit theaters everywhere, and at a time of transition for the organization. Carole Rothman, one of the company’s founders and now its president and artistic director, is leaving the organization this summer after a 45-year tenure; the board is conducting a search for her successor.

The Second Stage board had agreed to an 8-year lease renewal for the West 43rd Street building in 2021, but decided late last year to exercise a one-time option that allowed it out of the lease at the end of this year.

Lisa Lawer Post, the company’s executive director, cited financial concerns in explaining the decision by the organization’s board to terminate the lease for the West 43rd Street building, which is where the company presented early productions of shows including “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Next to Normal” and “Between Riverside and Crazy.”

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