Broadway continues its Blackest season ever by honoring a true legend and icon.
Per a press release provided to The Root, The Nederlander Organization has announced that on Nov. 1, the Brooks Atkinson Theatre will officially become the Lena Horne Theatre. A celebration on 47th Street in New York City is set to feature Broadway stars and include “special performances, remarks, an unveiling of the new marquee and a DJ’d block party.”
This is the latest theater to be named for a Black Broadway legend, as the Cort Theatre was officially renamed the James Earl Jones Theatre in September.
“By renaming this theatre, new generations of theatergoers will be introduced to the legendary Lena Horne, an entertainer who broke barriers for other Black women to follow in her footsteps, and through this recognition will continue to inspire future generations of theatergoers,” The Nederlander Organization said in a statement.
According to Deadline, the dedications are part of a 2020 initiative between Black Theatre United and Broadway theater owners to “honor Black theater artists by renaming at least one of their venues.” As these honors continue I’d like to suggest Cicely Tyson, Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll and Ben Vereen as some of the legends who definitely need theaters named after them.
This has been a banner season on Broadway, with shows like Topdog/Underdog, The Piano Lesson and Death of a Salesman currently playing or set to open this fall. During an interview with The Root, veteran theater producer Ron Simons spoke about getting more Black people invested in the theater.
“I tell people, ‘If you throw a party and you want people to come, then you need to invite them.’ I feel like we’ve fallen down on the part where we’re supposed to invite people to be a part of the experience,” Simons said.
Certainly, part of inviting Black audiences into the theater experience is recognizing our contributions to its history and success. Honoring legends like Lena Horne and James Earl Jones is essential to that effort.