Circle in the Square Theatre Information
- Location: New York, New York
- Address: 235 W. 50th St.
- Capacity: approx 770
- Opened: 1972
The Circle in the Square Theatre, founded in 1951 by Paul Libin, Theodore Mann, and Jose Quintero, started off-Broadway in Greenwich Village. The playhouse moved to its current location west of Broadway at 50th Street below the Gershwin Theatre in 1972 and boasts one of the most unique settings for large-scale productions.
The building was designed by architect Alan Sayles and was the new home of the Circle in the Square acting company, which had been a driving force in the off-Broadway movement. The venue offers visitors a "theater in the round " experience, where the audience is seated around the perimeter of the stage. This allows the theatre to work without a curtain, an overabundance of set design, and gives attendees a firsthand look into how the process unfolds. It holds 650 guests and has a stairwell and escalators that go down to the stage, concessions, and bathroom areas. It is also one of the few theatres in New York that has stagehands and electricians walking above the audience, so it is truly a unique spectacle that showcases the amount of work that goes into each performance.
The new theatre hosted its first production in the fall of 1972 with a version of Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra, starring Colleen Dewhurst. The critics loved the play and the intimacy of the surroundings and hailed it as one of the best new theatres in the city.
The longest-running show in the Circle in the Square's history was The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, written by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin. The play, which debuted in 2005, followed the emotionally harrowing final stages of an elementary school spelling bee and featured a highly talented cast. The production ran 1,136 performances - an impressive run for any Broadway show.
The Circle in the Square Theatre continues to be one of the most impressive locales in New York City in which to view legitimate theater. Its timeless "theater in the round " style sets it apart from the massive venues just a few streets away to offer visitors a unique and intimate experience.