The Brooks Atkinson Theatre was officially renamed the Lena Horne Theatre in honor of the iconic entertainer and civil rights activist, becoming the first Broadway theatre to be named for a Black woman. The formal celebration took place on Tuesday, Nov. 1 on 47th Street. 

Co-produced by Christina Selby and Jacquelyn Bell, the ceremony included special performances, remarks, and an unveiling of the new marquee, kicking off with a DJ’d block party to celebrate the occasion. Joining in the celebration were stars and luminaries from the Broadway and entertainment communities.

Lena Horne Credit: Photo Courtesy of the Nederlander Organization

During the summer of 2020, in solidarity with Black Theatre United, The Nederlander Organization embarked on a mission to rename the Brooks Atkinson Theatre after a prominent Black theatre legend, and chose someone from within the fabric and history of the organization. 

As the first Black woman ever to be nominated for a TONY Award for Leading Actress in a Musical, Horne also had a special history within the Nederlander family. James (Jimmy) L. Nederlander’s father, James M. Nederlander, was instrumental as one of the lead producers of Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music which played at the Nederlander Theatre in 1981. The show was an instant success and was extended to a full year run, garnering Horne a special Tony Award and two Grammy Awards for the cast recording of her show. 

The Brooks Atkinson Theatre, currently the home of SIX The Musical, was built in 1926. Originally named the Mansfield Theatre, the Brooks Atkinson Theatre has 1,069 seats and is one of the Nederlander Organization’s nine Broadway theatres.  

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  1. How wonderful to see Ms. Horne honored in this fashion. She adored Broadway and Broadway was one of her many beats. I first saw her in “Jamaica” when I was 15 1/2 from audience right, first row, seated in front of the tympani musician. Though that was loud nothing could outshine the brilliance of her first entrance and the electricity of her smiling demeanor. Out of this world. I was hooked and went on to see her at the Waldorf, in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Westbury, L.I., Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and other venues. The sheer excitement of her performances never diminished. So now Lena shines again brilliantly on 47th Street in her favorite city. Hooray to those who have created this honor.

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