The newly revamped and rededicated Julia Miles Theater began its illustrious history as a church built in 1898. It was occupied by the First Evangelical United Brethren Church for 64 years, and then converted by architect Louis Gardner and stage designer Hugh Hardy into Theater 4.
Opening with David Ross’s production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, this space housed a wide variety of productions beginning with the controversial and groundbreaking hit play, Boys in the Band, running for 2 1/2 years. Tom Stoppard’s double bill of The Real Inspector Hound and After Magritte followed, enjoying a successful 465 performances.
The Negro Ensemble Company purchased Theater 4 in the 1970s, producing the Pulitzer Prize winning A Soldier’s Play and the critically acclaimed, Zooman & the Sign, among many other groundbreaking works.Manhattan Theatre Club made Theater 4 its home for Brian Friel’s The Aristocrats. The Blue Light Theater Company revived The Seagull, with a new translation by Stoppard, and mounted the hilarious Filumena: A Marriage Italian Style by Eduardo DeFilippo and Amazing Grace by Michael Cristofer at Theater 4. Countless famous names have appeared on these boards, including Kevin Kline, Denzel Washington, Mary Alice, Giancarlo Esposito, and Marsha Mason.
Women’s Project purchased the theater in 1998, providing a permanent home for the organization. In October 2004, the theater was renamed the Julia Miles Theater, after its visionary founder, and its stage was christened the Sallie Bingham Stage, after its longtime generous benefactor. Tweleve extraordinary years later, Women’s Project remains the only women’s theater company to hold the keys to its own stage.
Julia Miles Theater is located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. Known as "Clinton" by the municipal government and devotees of former mayor DeWitt Clinton and as "Hell's Kitchen" by Daredevil and everyone else, this area of Midtown West is currently experiencing rapid (re)development. Spanning roughly from West 34th to 59th Streets and from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River, it still has a rough-and-tumble character when compared with other more defined neighborhoods in Manhattan. Once a bastion of poor and working-class Irish Americans, over the last decade the neighborhood has undergone tremendous gentrification as a result of its proximity to Midtown's many office buildings. Long-time residents, many of whom enjoyed reasonable rents and decent-sized apartments, are finding that conversion of rent-controlled and -stabilized apartments, coupled with the general building boom and strong economy, brought quick change to this formerly sleepy area. Given the strange, even Byzantine zoning regulations in New York, it’s not unusual to see a tiny brownstone, a remnant of another era, adjacent to or near a brand-new high-rise rental or condominium building. While the wholesome new Theater District has resulted in lower crime rates and decreased the area’s quality-of-life problems such as prostitution, urban transformation for some means a loss of the gritty qualities of this neighborhood for others. While you'll find thousands of new apartments in Hell's Kitchen west of Ninth Avenue, you'll also find dozens of eclectic and interesting restaurants to boot. Some of our favorites include the terrific Daisy May's BBQ on Eleventh Avenue; the German cuisine of Hallo Berlin and nearby Queen of Sheba featuring great Ethiopian cuisine on Tenth Avenue; French patisserie La Bergamote on West 42nd Street; Bali Nusa Indah on Ninth Avenue has intriguing Indonesian dishes; the Film Center Café for high-powered American diner-style dishes; and the many Thai places dotting Ninth Avenue too numerous to mention. Hotels in Hell's Kitchen include a number of budget places the further west you go such as The 414 Hotel and the Skyline. While there are dozens of hotels on Eighth Avenue and throughout the Theater District on Eighth Avenue and Broadway, Hell's Kitchen enjoys a somewhat more relaxed pace than the frenetic hubbub you'll find just two avenues further east. Check out the neighborhood's weekly Chelsea-Clinton News, a great local publication that’s been around longer than the former U.S. President’s daughter!
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