1, C, E to 50th St
Take the M7, M20, M50, or M104 bus.
Designed by architect Alan Sayles, Circle in the Square is one of two theatres in the Paramount Plaza office tower. Its much bigger sibling is the Gershwin Theatre. The theatre entrance lobbies are side by side but separated by a wall.
The Gershwin and Circle in the Square were built in 1970 when the Uris Brothers tore down the Capitol Theatre to build the tower (with the Gershwin originally being called the Uris Theatre).
It originally served as the uptown home to the Circle-in-the-Square repertory company. Their first production on Broadway, a revival of Mourning Becomes Electra, opened on November 15, 1972.
The theatre is below street level. It is one of only two Broadway houses with a thrust stage.
The building also houses the Circle in the Square Theatre School, the only accredited training conservatory associated with a Broadway theatre, which offers two two-year training programs, in acting and musical theatre.
The original Circle in the Square was founded by Paul Libin, Theodore Mann and Jose Quintero in 1951 and was located at 5 Sheridan Square (a brownstone) in Greenwich Village. The original Circle in the Square did not have a theater license, but Quintero was able to get a cabaret license; the production staff and off duty actors served as waiters if anyone insisted on ordering food or drinks. Many of the theater personnel, both acting and technical, lived on the premises. Even classical performances took place here: Pianist Grete Sultan, who later became a well known interpreter of New Music and was John Cage's close friend, performed Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach here in January 1953. In 1960, the company moved to the Circle in the Square Downtown, at 159 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village in a historic building built in 1917. Before it became the Circle in the Square Theatre this building first was a movie house followed by the original Amato Opera House. It was built by and operated by Italian-Americans, which was typical of the South Village in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Many of these theaters in the South Village were, like the Circle in the Square, built or altered from other types of existing structures (in this case, a movie theater) both presaging the adaptive re-use movement of the late 20th century and illustrating the South Village's unique innovative contributions to the world of theater and architecture. In 2004, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation fought plans by the owners of the building to demolish the theater. This was part of a larger initiative by the organization to document and preserve the entire South Village. However, the theatre was demolished and another building was erected in its place.
Watch a video about the Circle in the Square Theatre at Spotlightonbroadway.com