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BAM Harvey Theater


Serving as a playhouse, then a cinema, the history-filled Majestic is now the BAM Harvey.

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History of the BAM Harvey Theater

The venue we enjoy as the "Harvey" first opened in 1904 as the Majestic Theater, one of the many theaters in this bustling entertainment district. The Majestic showed a variety of dramas, light opera, musicals, and vaudeville, with stars such as Katherine Cornell, and it became an important trial theater for productions headed to Broadway, including Noel Coward's Home Chat.

In 1942, the Majestic was transformed into a first-run movie house in elegant European style by a Parisian and his two sons, wealthy showmen who had fled the Nazis. By the 1960s, however, the advent of television and a shift in the population resulted in the closure and repurposing of theaters in the district.

The Majestic sat abandoned for nearly two decades. BAM President and Executive Producer Harvey Lichtenstein was looking for a place to stage the acclaimed British theater director Peter Brook's nine-hour production of The Mahabharata when he decided to investigate the derelict building he passed on his way to BAM. It was just what he was looking for, similar to alternate spaces being repurposed in Europe, such as Brook's Parisian venue, Les Bouffes du Nord.

Lichtenstein raised funds for what was an award-winning renovation of the theater, completed in 1987. Retaining original architectural elements, the theater's design maintained an aged look that creates a visceral bridge between the past and the future. In 1999, the Majestic was renamed in honor of retiring leader Harvey Lichtenstein.

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