In a historic first, the Nederlander Organization will rename one of its Broadway theaters to honor the great performer and civil rights activist Lena Horne, the company announced today. The venue, currently the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, will be the first Broadway venue named for a Black woman.
The new name – The Lena Horne Theatre – will become official this fall. The venue currently houses the hit Broadway musical Six.
In 1981, she opened the celebrated show Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music at the Nederlander Theater. She won a special Tony Award and two Grammy Awards for the show. James M. Nederlander, father of James (Jimmy) L. Nederlander, was one of the lead producers of the production.
Horne’s other Broadway credits include her 1934 debut Dance With Your Gods, Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1939, Jamaica (which earned her a Tony nomination in 1958), and, in 1974, Tony & Lena Sing with Tony Bennett.
The 1,069-seat theater at 256 W. 47th Street to be renamed for Horne opened in 1926 as the Mansfield Theatre, and in 1950 was leased to CBS under the name Studio 59. The venue was renamed for former New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson when it resumed theatrical performances in 1960.
The name change is the latest realization of a pledge made last year by the three major Broadway theater owners (in an agreement with Black Theater United) to name at least one of their theaters for a Black artist.
In March, the Shubert Organization announced that it would rename the 110-year-old Cort Theater the James Earl Jones Theatre.
Jujamcyn Theaters had renamed its Virginia Theatre as the August Wilson Theatre in honor of the playwright in 2005.