The Beacon Theatre is the “older sister” to Radio City Music Hall. Both legendary venues were the “brainchild” of Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, the great theatrical impresario and visionary of his time. Roxy Rothafel had identical dreams for both theaters. He believed that both the Beacon Theatre and Radio City Music Hall should become an “International Music Hall” theater, to present live entertainment acts and present cultural and popular events. Designed by Chicago architect Walter Ahlschlager in the Art Deco style, the Beacon Theatre opened in 1929 as a forum for vaudeville acts, musical productions, drama, opera, and movies. Known for its flawless acoustics, the Beacon has been a favored New York City stop for top acts since the Roaring Twenties. Remarkably, the original sound-system still provides near-perfect acoustics today.
In 1979, the historic venue was designated a national landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A 1986 proposal to convert the 2,600-seat, three-tiered theatre into a disco was blocked when a judge ruled the change would irreparably damage the building’s architecture. Many of the greatest names in music have played the Beacon including the Rolling Stones, Jerry Garcia, Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, James Taylor, Radiohead, and Queen. The Beacon Theatre has hosted such operatic events as “Madame Butterfly” (1988) and “Ballet on Broadway” (1978). The Beacon was the first “concert hall” outfitted for IMAX for the film “The Rolling Stones at the Max,” December 1991. His Holiness the Dalai Lama chose the Beacon Theatre as the site of his teaching classes in August of 1999. The Allman Brothers hold an annual rite of spring concert series at the Beacon Theatre known as “The Beacon Run.” Since 1989, they have performed 173 shows at the Beacon. On Oct. 29, 2006 Bill Clinton ended his 60th birthday celebration at the Beacon with a private Rolling Stones concert. In November 2006 the Beacon Theatre joined MSG Entertainment’s family of world-class venues.