By Lauren Matison Posted March 3, 2009, 10:00 AM EST
The impending snowstorm did not stop 1,000 guests from celebrating the opening of the new Broadway revival of Guys & Dolls Sunday night at Gotham Hall. Despite an arctic draft blowing through the gilded front doors, the main chamber of the converted bank bid adieu to winter with a Havana setting, with flamingo-pink lighting on the walls, aquamarine-draped tables, electric-green up-lit palm trees, and body heat from lots of guys and dolls.
The 17,500-square-foot landmark typically caps the head count at 800, but Broadway's latest musical needed to make a slightly larger number fit. And though the Midtown spot was the smallest of several venues that producers auditioned for the role (including Cipriani 42nd Street, Marriott Marquis, and Terminal 5), the ability to compromise during tough economic times made all the difference for Ty Kuppig, director of design and operations at McNabb Roick, which was tapped by Ambassador Theatre Group to handle production.
“With our current economic climate, it’s important for everyone to realize the events business is becoming more challenging and competitive,“ said Kuppig. “Gotham Hall was a clear choice once they were willing to make it possible for us to have a great event with food and beverage that was within our budget. We got the most value out of this venue.”
For Kuppig, who has overseen six Broadway events, getting creative with resources and a finite space meant making the most of what he already had, which, in this case, was Gotham Hall. “The venue is aesthetically excellent and didn’t require spending much money filling [it] up or disguising it,” said Kuppig, who had a lounge, mezzanine, and main area to work with. “So we decided to highlight the existing architecture with colors of the Caribbean, and provide enough flexible space for people to mingle in—that’s what these opening-night celebratory events are really for.”
Anticipating a dense crowd—including actors Geoffrey Rush, Mariska Hargitay, Kevin Bacon, and Kyra Sedgwick—the production team set up V.I.P. seating, then outfitted what space was left with a smattering of cocktail and highboy tables. The rest of the unassigned guests had to stand and eat, often facing the walls where protruding slabs of marble doubled as a bar. While one attendee commented that it was too cramped, Matthew Broderick said, “I loved this venue. The service was great, and [DJ Hollands] makes it sound like there is a live Cuban band here.”
By 11 p.m., as people started making their exits, the few bottlenecks around the buffets and bars loosened, allowing guests to move more freely about the space.