The NYCB Theatre at Westbury has one more reason to celebrate this year.
In June, the venue celebrated the 60th anniversary of its opening on Brush Hollow Road, initially as Westbury Music Fair, where fans would watch musical productions in directors’ chairs under a tent. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Westbury Music Fair’s building, where its unique stage has held performances in the round for everyone from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Diana Ross and Patti LaBelle to newcomers like Charlie Puth.
And on Thursday, the venue will be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame by the group’s co-founder Norm Prusslin at its biennial gala, held this year crosstown at The Space at Westbury.
NYCB Theatre at Westbury marketing director Dan Kellachan said that the honor is a testament to the idea that radio broadcaster Frank Ford, TV news anchor Shelly Gross and nightclub owner Lee Guber had in 1955 that Long Islanders would support entertainment closer to home. “It reiterates the whole idea of what the NYCB Theatre at Westbury has meant to Long Island, to be this venue that has provided a really eclectic mix of world-class entertainers for 60 years,” said Kellachan, who has worked at the venue since 1983. “So many other venues have come and gone. We’re still here.”
Kellachan said the theater has succeeded by knowing its audience and serving them well. “The main thing that has stayed the same through all the years is that the bookers have always tackled the evolution of the market,” he said. “We strive to cater to that main audience of 40- to 60-year-olds in the area. There’s a time in your life where you’ve got to be at the best show of the night, and there are places like Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum and now Barclays [Center] for that. But you also get nostalgic for our old bands. You also want a comfortable night out to see a band that stirs something in you.”
Kellachan said no decision has been made on where to display the award that NYCB Theatre at Westbury will receive. But for many, the building itself is a constant reminder of its importance to the area.
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Long Island Music Hall of Famer Debbie Gibson said she always aspired to play there when she was growing up in Merrick.
“Westbury holds a special place in my heart because it was a full-circle moment of me going from fan to full-fledged performer,” Gibson told Newsday in June. “It was the realization of a little girl from Long Island dreaming big and succeeding.”
WHAT Long Island Music Hall of Fame Induction Gala
WHEN | WHERE 8:30 p.m. Thursday, The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave.
INFO $95-$250; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com