1, C, E to 50th Street
Take the M7, M20, M50, or M104 bus.
Designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp, the developer, real estate mogul Alexander Pincus originally named it the "Alvin Theatre" as an amalgam of the names of producers ALex Aarons and VINton Freedley. With its address originally listed as 244-54 West 42nd Street, it opened on November 22, 1927 with George and Ira Gershwin's Funny Face starring Fred and Adele Astaire. In 1930, the legendary Ethel Merman made her Broadway debut in Girl Crazy; in 1934, she appeared again in Cole Porter's Anything Goes and again in 1936 in Porter's Red, Hot and Blue. In 1935, the Gershwins' classic American folk opera Porgy and Bess had its world premiere at the venue. Due to the Great Depression, Aarons and Freedley lost control of their venue in 1932. For a period of time it was used as a radio studio by CBS. In 1960, Lucille Ball appeared in her only Broadway show, the musical Wildcat. In 1965, Liza Minnelli made her Broadway debut in Flora the Red Menace. The original Broadway production of Annie opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin.
In 1977, the building was purchased by the Nederlander Organization, and was renamed in honor of American playwright Neil Simon on June 29, 1983 with the opening of his play Brighton Beach Memoirs. In 1985, its sequel Biloxi Blues also played at the theatre.
The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1985. Historical records show that its original seating capacity was 1,362; in 2002, it was expanded from 1328 to a potential 1467 (depending on usage of the facility, as the presence of an orchestra pit displaces 26 seats) after the May 27, 2002 closing of Elaine Stritch at Liberty.