At Liberty to Eat Wings

The Liberty Theater, pre (2009) and post (2011) -op

It was 2003 when British director Deborah Warner first heard of the plans to “renovate” the decaying Liberty Theater on 42nd Street. That gloriously decrepit space––which had played crepuscular host to Warner’s 1996 presentation of TS Eliot’s “The Waste Land”––was to be converted (…wait for it…) into a Cipriani restaurant. Oh joy! At the time, Warner told the Grey Lady, “This is a potential scandal. You [New Yorkers] are very bad. Your lack of preservation is outrageous. You will kick yourself in 10 years. We need these theaters for our souls.”

Well, it’s almost been a decade, so let the kicking begin. While the 2003 deal with Cipriani didn’t work out (thank God––it would’ve castrated the theater of its balconies), that most illustrious of restaurant chains, BBQ, has just opened its doors in this former Broadway house. I recently paid a visit to this newly-opened architectural “improvement” and snapped a few pictures. Compare the new, chipper decor with the eerie beauty I was lucky enough to see (and photograph) in 2009.

 

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An Adjustment on the Deuce

The premise behind “The Adjustment Bureau” is simple and delicious: At each human’s birth, a supreme, omniscient “chairman” creates a script for his or her life. As people grow, the chairman helps turn these prescribed narratives into reality with little nudges, or “adjustments:” inconspicuous, seemingly random blips—lost keys, forgotten appointments—that ultimately put people on the “right” path. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt oh-so-stylishly lead the way through this delightfully glossy, children’s book fantasy kind of grown-up blockbuster.

Exiting the AMC Empire on West 42nd Street, where “Bureau” is playing, I couldn’t help but wish for a few “adjustments” in that theater’s exceptional history. Once a beautiful, legitimate playhouse, it followed Times Square into general decay and porno squalor. Under the jurisdiction of The New 42nd Street Street, Inc., the Empire missed the world-class renovations sported by several of its Deuce brethren, and now serves as the entrance to AMC’s monster movie complex. (This remarkable civic tale gets the royal treatment in Anthony Bianco’s pitch-perfect book, “Ghosts of 42nd Street.”)

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