New York Community Bank Theatre at Westbury, also known as the Westbury Music Fair, offers a unique entertainment experience through its theatre-in-the-round setup.
“Unlike any other theater, there are 2,800 seats that sit around the stage, and the stage rotates for a majority of the shows,” explained Adam Citron, general manager of NYCB Theatre at Westbury.
This configuration means that more of the audience has front-row seats, and it allows for a more immersive entertainment experience. Additionally, the acoustics bounce off the walls instead of just projecting outwards, creating a surround-sound effect.
Citron said this combination makes the experience of watching a show at NYCB Theatre very different than it would be in the classic theater setup.
“It does have an intimate, watching the show, viewing a show in your living room sort of feel,” he explained.
The venue – operated and programmed by LiveNation – hosts “a unique talent pool,” from musical artists to comics to a psychic medium that will be performing in May.
Citron told me that comedy series are one of his favorite types of events to experience at the theater.
“It’s interesting to watch a comic work a stage and have somebody behind them when they’re talking to people to the side,” he explained.
But that’s not all the venue has to offer.
“We’ve been branching out, too; we’ve done boxing and wrestling. And we’ve been actually talking about possibly doing some sort of MMA, or ultimate fighting, because I think it would stage pretty well in the round like that.”
Citron also explained that the smaller capacity makes it a great venue for up-and-coming artists as well as the more famous acts that have graced the stage.
“It’s a great proving ground for artists on the way up,” he said. “It’s something that has always created sort of a launch pad for an artist, and we’re looking for those next artists to come through and hopefully they’ll wind up playing larger stages like, you know, Northwell Health Jones Beach Theater or PNC Bank Arts center.”
The theatre-in-the-round setup means that some shows and acts have to change how they do things.
“The tours have to definitely sort of morph their show to playing in the round vs. a conventional sort of proscenium setup,” he said.
But once they experience it, Citron explained, viewers and performers alike truly enjoy the venue.
“The artists have come offstage and go, ‘Wow, that was pretty cool. I want to come back here and do something in the round [again],’” he said.
The summertime offers expanded opportunities for the theater, and Citron said he was excited about the warmer months.
“We can leverage the outside property of the venue where we’ve got sort of patio decks and outside spaces,” he said. “The world’s been cooped up for two or three years inside, so it’s nice that we can get outside and leverage those spaces as well.”
NYCB Theatre, in some capacity, has been around since 1956. It began as the Westbury Music Fair: a circus tent erected in the summer months to host shows such as its inaugural event “The King and I” and other musical theater.
“Over the course of the decades and years, the venue’s gone through some different iterations: where a rooftop was put over and permanent seats were put in,” Citron said. “Now it’s sort of getting into the 21st century with the Wi-Fi, the internet, all the digital TVs and all the comforts that you and I are used to seeing.”
This long history is part of what makes NYCB Theatre so special, according to Citron.
“It’s where, you know, our parents and our grandparents sort of grew up, and now I’m seeing a lot of people my age taking their children there,” he said. “There’s a sense of ownership, and it’s an iconic venue.”