NEW YORK CITY: An era comes to an end with the announcement that Carole Rothman, founding artistic director of the new-play-focused Second Stage, will step down after 45 years running the company. Rothman co-founded Second Stage in 1979 in a 16th-floor penthouse, later moving it to the renovated Walter McGinn/John Cazale theatre on the Upper West Side. The company then converted an empty bank building into the Tony Kiser Theater on 43rd Street, adjacent to the Broadway theatre district, then finally made the full leap to the Main Stem with the purchase of the historic Helen Hayes Theater in 2015.
“For 45 years, I have had the great honor of working with countless incredible artists and playwrights, many at the beginning of their careers, who are now among the brightest stars in the industry,” said Rothman in a statement. “The shows we have brought to life have been award winners, conversation starters, and groundbreakers. I’m forever grateful to all the people who have helped make Second Stage the creative springboard it is today. I’m so proud of what we have accomplished together.”
Among the more than 250 plays and musicals that have graced Second Stage, either in premieres or successful remounts, have been This Is Our Youth and Lobby Hero by Kenneth Lonergan, Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis, Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes, Dear Evan Hansen by Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul, Clyde’s and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage, Notes From the Field and Let Me Down Easy by Anna Deavere Smith, Bachelorette by Leslye Headland, Make Believe by Bess Wohl, Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee, Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane, Take Me Out by Richard Greenberg, Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin, Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants by Ricky Jay, Jitney by August Wilson, Jar the Floor by Cheryl L. West, Crowns by Regina Taylor, Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim, and Coastal Disturbances by Tina Howe. Closing the current season in the Hayes will be Paula Vogel’s Mother Play and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Appropriate.
From the start, Rothman defined the theatre’s mission as creating an open, creative space that could introduce the community to new, emerging talent, and produce new plays—often second productions, hence the theatre’s name—by living American playwrights. As of 2022, the theatre’s budget was approximately $8.2 million.
Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by making a donation to our publisher, Theatre Communications Group. When you support American Theatre magazine and TCG, you support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism. Click here to make your fully tax-deductible donation today!