Hudson Theatre reopens after $14m makeover

Mr Kwek (left) addressing reporters at the re-opening of Hudson Theatre. Actors Jake Gyllenhaal (right) and Annaleigh Ashford (second from right) will raise the curtain on the restored theatre, performing Sunday In The Park With George starting tomor
Mr Kwek (left) addressing reporters at the re-opening of Hudson Theatre. Actors Jake Gyllenhaal (right) and Annaleigh Ashford (second from right) will raise the curtain on the restored theatre, performing Sunday In The Park With George starting tomorrow.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MILLENNIUM & COPTHORNE HOTELS

The curtain goes up on New York's famous Hudson Theatre tomorrow after a US$10 million (S$14.1 million) renovation funded in part by property tycoon Kwek Leng Beng.

The theatre, one of Broadway's oldest, is kicking off its new era with the Pulitzer prize-winning play, Sunday In The Park With George, starring Hollywood actor Jake Gyllenhaal and Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford.

The Hudson in West 44th Street has been renovated through the joint forces of the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) and property developer City Development Limited's hotel arm Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C) chaired by Mr Kwek.

London-listed M&C signed a lease with privately held ATG, the largest owner of theatres in Britain in 2015, to refurbish and re-open the Hudson.

The renovation, which took 18 months, included new seating, new dressing rooms and high-tech lighting equipment and stage systems, all at a cost of US$10 million, according to media reports.

The theatre, which was built in 1903, has been used as a TV studio, event space and a rock club, featuring stars such as stage legend Ethel Barrymore, musician Louis Armstrong and pop legend Elvis Presley. It is connected to Millennium Broadway Hotel, which was acquired by M&C in December 1994 for US$96 million.

Pop Art artist Andy Warhol screened his movie, Bike Boy, at the theatre, earning the criticism: "It opened yesterday at the Hudson Theatre. It belongs in the Hudson River."

Mr Kwek said yesterday: "We are extremely pleased about this alliance with ATG... and are delighted to be returning the Hudson Theatre not only to its former splendour but to its original intended use.

M&C owns five hotels in Manhattan - Millennium Broadway, The Premier, ONE UN, Millennium Hilton and Novotel Times Square.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'Hudson Theatre reopens after $14m makeover'. Print Edition | Subscribe