The Lucille Lortel Theatre is an off-Broadway playhouse located at 121 Christopher Street in New York City's Greenwich Village. It was built in 1926 as a 590-seat movie theater called the New Hudson, later known as Hudson Playhouse. The interior is largely unchanged to this day.
In the early 1950s, the site was converted to an off-Broadway theater as Theater de Lys, opening on June 9, 1953 with a production of Maya, a play by Simon Gantillon starring Kay Medford, Vivian Matalon, and Susan Strasberg. It closed after seven performances. The phenomenon was "The Threepenny Opera," which opened March 10, 1954, with a cast that included Bea Arthur, John Astin, Lotte Leyna, Leon Lishner, Scott Merrill, Gerald Price, Charlotte Rae and Jo Sullivan. Because of an incoming booking, it was forced to close after 96 performances. Re-opening Sept. 20, 1955, with largely the same cast, "The Threepenny Opera" this time played until Dec. 17, 1961, a then record-setting run for a musical in New York City.
In 1955, financier Louis Schweitzer acquired the building as an anniversary present for his wife, actress-producer Lucille Lortel. In 1981, the year of her 81st birthday, the theatre was renamed in her honor. After Lortel's death, the theatre was left to the Lucille Lortel Foundation.