See inside NYC’s gorgeous new Art Deco-inspired variety theater

It’s not every day that New York City gets a new theater, so the mere opening of Midnight Theatre on September 21, a new 160-seat destination in the heart of Manhattan West, is reason enough to celebrate. Add to it the fact that the venue is also home to a bar, a top-notch restaurant and a cafe, and you’ve got yourself a new cultural must-visit.

The brainchild of creative director Warren Adcock (also responsible for the wonderful show “The Magician” at the NoMad Hotel), chef/restaurateur Josh Cohen of Lilia fame and designer Cycle Projects, Midnight Theatre seeks to offer an intimate experience showcasing a variety of different acts—from magicians to musical and comedy shows. Expect a variety theater in the truest sense of the term. 

Midnight Theatre
Photograph: Jason Greenspan

“We’re inspired by the entertainment staples in New York but want to bring everything down to you and another 159 people,” Adcock tells us. “It’s a variety theater so we do a lot of different stuff. We’re not one thing, we’re a variety of things.”

To deliver the very best, the partners are also banking on state-of-the-art technology: each wall will become a canvas thanks to 270-degree projection mapping. “That obviously lends itself to immersive storytelling,” explains Adcock.

But New Yorkers will hopefully feel compelled to flock to 75 Manhattan West Plaza not just for the stage acts but for the venue’s Pan-Asian restaurant as well, which is already open.

We’re not one thing, we’re a variety of things.

“The idea is you come see a show under our roof and then go get dinner, or vice versa,” Adcock hopes out loud. Enjoying a meal at Hidden Leaf, the restaurant, and a show at the Midnight Theatre are independent experiences. A reservation at the former won’t guarantee you access to the latter but Adcock notes that they’ll soon offer packages as incentives to try out both elements of the space.

Midnight Theatre
Photograph: Brett Beyer Photography

Perhaps more noteworthy than the opening of a new theater is the location of the novel destination. Clearly trying to separate itself from the classic Broadway theater experience, Midnight Theatre will inhabit a neighborhood that, although constantly in shift, has yet to become one of Manhattan’s most sought-after areas. At first glance, the stage does seem to be more suited to a Lower East Side audience, perhaps, or even Brooklyn residents. So why Manhattan West?

Back in 2018, the landlord of Brookfield Place called Cohen and showed him a retail space in the neighborhood. “[They] asked him to make a restaurant but the space was huge,” he remembers. “It was 11,000 square feet with a portion of it that had no columns so it was an ideal entertainment space.” Cohen eventually approached Adcock and the two came up with a concept that they thought “could sort of disrupt New York a bit.” 

“We all go to the theater but it’s not the smoothest experience,” says Adcock. “There are a ton of other people and, if there is a dining component to it, it’s a slice of pizza or a meal in the Theater District following the show. Maybe you’re buying expensive wine at the concession stand. We set out to bring the hospitality component to the theater side of things.”

Midnight Theatre
Photograph: Brett Beyer Photography

The result of their collaboration is surely an exciting addition to the city’s eclectic cultural scene—and a beautiful one at that. The decor draws inspiration from an Art Deco aesthetic, with loads of brass and clean, elegant lines.

As for the moniker, it’s also about timing. “The name is evocative of the theme of art as an escape,” says Adcock. “An escape from time and the present tense and the idea is that’s a portal for storytelling that can take you away from your current thoughts and concerns and really transport you some place special that can offer some perspective.”

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