The Playgoer: What's Up with that "Times Square Church"?

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Monday, April 05, 2010

What's Up with that "Times Square Church"?

Next time you're walking through the theatre district and see that building that looks like a Broadway house but says "Times Square Church" on the marquee, remember it is a church, not some new concept-musical.

And remember that it used to be the gorgeous Art Deco-styled Mark Hellinger theatre.  Michael Riedel recently told the story of what the hell is up with that:

In 1991, the church bought the Hellinger from Nederlander for $17 million and has been conducting services there ever since. The theater has not been home to a Broadway show for 22 years.
Yet Broadway's power brokers still covet it. It is the Holy Grail of Times Square theaters.
"It is the theater to have," says Philip J. Smith, the chairman of the Shubert Organization. "We chased it twice, but the church wouldn't sell..."
Happy Easter guys.  Enjoy God's revenge on our little Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Mark Hellinger Theatre, then...


Anonymous said...

About 10 years ago while I was still living in NYC, someone had invited me to go to the Times Square Church. Around the 3rd time I went there, God told me to run out of that place as fast as my legs could carry me. And the reason for that was that the message I got was that what was going on in that church was mass hysteria in the name of Jesus. Emotional highs and adrenalin kicks with Jesus as the source. So in fact Jesus had become something more like a drug. In any case, it was not my cup of tea at all thank you very much!

The Grabber

John The Evangelist said...

I went there yesterday - awesome art deco - no wonder the theaters want it back. No hysteria - just solid sincere people singing classic contemporary Christian songs and a genuinely humble senior pastor with a very encouraging message. Offering was very low key and their ushers managed to serve communion to 3000 people in under five minutes. In the visitors lounge were people from Paris, Brazil, Nigeria, a d even NYC. I couldn't imagine Jesus telling anyone to run from q place that ministers to the poor and has such international appeal. No politics or cultural baggage. Refreshing.

CM said...

@anonymous: I don't know which "god" spoke to you and let's not even go there but I just wanted to ask you to double check the voice that you think you heard.
I've been going there on and off when I'm in the city and I can't but say that God is in that building:
People are being set free from drugs, alcohol, panic attacks, adultery, fear, pornography, hatred,..etc.
That's all I see every time I go, and no show on Broadway can make a father who abandoned his family go back and reconcile and no money in the world can buy that. Palpable wonders happen in that place. Drug dealers, pimps, criminals, people that even the judicial system couldn't correct, turn around and have changed lives. You don't have to go, just try to stream one of the services and tell me what you think: