By Meredith Hoffman
HELL'S KITCHEN — Drama lovers can dine, drink, and discuss plays at a newly designed theater set to open January.
The Signature Theater, a venue that served audiences on the far West side of Manhattan for two decades at its 42nd Street and 11th Avenue location, will soon move to an expanded space where it has been approved to have a liquor license, Community Board 4 decided Tuesday.
The future Signature Center, to be located just a block east of its old location at 42nd Street at 10th Avenue, is being designed by architect Frank Gehry, and will include three performance areas with room for 700 audience members, along with a 6,000-square-foot lobby, with a café, bookstore, and digital screens that may be interactive.
The theater's marketing director David Hatkoff said that the current Signature Theater has just 160 seats and a 1,000-square-foot lobby. It's expected to open early next year.
"The culture we’re trying to set up is one not just of producing plays, but creating an environment where people can talk about theater," said Hatkoff.
"In the current space we just have one theater, and concessions are only available 30 minutes before the show."
The new center's bar that will stay open before and after shows, owners said.
The Signature Theater gained acclaim for devoting whole seasons to the work of a single playwright, like Arthur Miller and currently Tony Kushner.
In the new center, organizers expect to schedule overlapping performances in the three separate performance spaces throughout the season.
"Many times throughout the year all three theaters will be showing work," said Hatkoff.
He said that the current Signature Theater will hold its last production in July, to prepare for its new space.