Seaport welcomes new tenant

A new theater will be opening in the South Street Seaport in April.

Algonquin Theater plans to build a 200-seat theater for off-Broadway productions that will include cabaret shows, musical revues, comedy acts and children’s theater. The 3,700-square-foot venue, which will open with 75 to 100 seats, will be situated on the second floor of the Seaport Mall at 89 South Street, overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River. In the meantime, Algonquin, which moved into the space on March 1, will be renovating.

“I really want it to look elegant,” said Tony Sportiello, artistic director of Algonquin. The goal, he said, is to provide a venue for the Downtown community so that residents won’t have to travel to midtown or uptown to see high-quality theater.

“The deal at the Seaport,” he said, “was simply too good to pass up.”

Each Algonquin show will run for approximately three months, and, if successful, Sportiello and his team will try to move it to Broadway.

Sportiello plans to select shows from those written by Second Stage Theatre and other New York-based theater companies. He also intends to create a spin-off company that would develop new musicals for the Seaport venue in the coming years. Previously, Sportiello directed the WorkShop Theatre, which developed plays. “We wanted to get away from play development,” he said. “We think it’s important to support cultural causes in every shape and form.”

Michael Piazzola, senior general manager for the Howard Hughes Corporation, which currently manages the Seaport, noted that there are no incubator theaters Downtown at the moment.

Having one, he thinks, “will be exciting as well as instructional for the future.”

Part of the venue’s mission, Piazzola said, will be to attract more visitors to the Seaport district as a whole. “Hopefully, they’ll discover the museum while they’re here,” he said, referring to Seaport New York, which has recently struggled to stay open.

The Seaport theater will be Algonquin’s first permanent venue.

— Aline Reynolds