In NYC, Grace Kelly Opens The Beacon Theater After We Saved It

New York, N.Y.  I raised funds in a hurry, money gathered thanks to the many donations made by celebrities, I was able to welcome the opening event in a surprisingly short period of time after the false owner disappeared, but even now I remember. There were so many comical emergencies to laugh at. At that time I was in my late thirties.

All of a sudden, a section of the ceiling broke and black water cascaded down, covering the actor’s beautiful costume and make up! We have an expression in Japan, “He is so handsome, water pours on him.” So, he laughed and said he was complimented. 

When Kabuki’s Ennosuke came in a beautiful outfit and was rehearsing, just above that point broke and it was dirty and black water was hanging. He laughed away with jokingly, “Wonderful water is also a good man?” He is a wonderful person.

Grace Kelly on Stage for the Opening

Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, really came to the opening reception. She also brought Prince Albert, then twelve years old. But when the staff notified me that the two of them had arrived, they have not finished laying the carpet yet. I was approached from behind, spreading my carpet while sweat like a waterfall. I came with a beautiful kimono the band of my father’s Tatsumura obi, so I’m sweating, I will never forget that one (laugh).

Although Grace Kelly did not return to the stage at all after retirement, she only went up to the stage at this time to read a poem. Thanks to her, a lot of people from New York social circle really turned out this day. Thanks to that, more funds poured into our faffort and the theater was saved. I really appreciated being able to reopen the theater in spite of the black water falling from above. 

The first performance following the Opening was Ennosuke Kabuki in September. There was not enough space in the back of the theater, therefore all of the large scenery and props were out on Amsterdam Avenue, covered by tarps. I hired to police 24 hours security to secure it. I admire Ennosuke as a person – he was such a good sport! His performance was awesome and the show a great success.

After the performance he became so well known, when we went shopping on Fifth Avenue, people called out “ENNOSUKE – !!!” From this time, Mr. Ennosuke started showing how to apply Kabuki make-up in the lobby and everyone was excited!

I made my office the theater basement where I could work. I stayed there all the time, working endlessly. I almost did not sleep, maybe only two hours every day? I produced about 200 performances in one year. I did not understand rock and roll alone, but I did almost everything else except that.

Our rental contract was $15,000 dollars a month which we could pay at the beginning, but it was getting harder to pay. Every time I was three days late with the rent, I was served with an eviction notice. When this arrived, I brought it to the owner Henry Moskovitz, crying “I came again.” He would tear it up He was also a wonderful person.

One day, I thought of making the Beacon Theater a cultural landmark to keep it open forever. Once you are accepted as such, by the Cultural Property Protection Committee in New York. Then, as soon as I applied, one of the mean partners co-owning Moskovitz, sued me and filed a lawsuit.

When a property becomes a cultural landmark, you can not put your hands on the building as you think, so it’s said that the asset value as a building drops. But it eventually became a cultural asset safely. That person was opposed to what I was doing for a long time, passed away. The descendants are very grateful that I have made it a cultural landmark and it is protected.

(The next issue will be published January 20)

Originally published as Vol. 9 in Weekly Biz, January 13, 2018; translated by Jim Luce.

See: Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura Column in Japan’s Weekly Biz



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About Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura

View all posts by Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko was born into a distinguished old family in Kyoto, Japan, and graduated from Toho conservatory of Music in Tokyo. In 1961 she came to U.S. as a pianist sponsored by the Boston Symphony. She studied at Boston University, New York University, and received her Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine from New York State University and the International Academy of Education in Tokyo. From 1968 to 1992, she promoted cultural exchanges from East to West and vice versa, and became a world famous impresario, producing 2,000 events each year all over the world encompassing over 140 countries. In this connection, in 1972, she went to Dharamsala to find the lost Tibetan Folk Opera, and met His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with whom she remains a lifelong friend. In 1973 and 1991 she arranged and funded personally the tours of the Folk Opera of Tibet to the West. She has received many medals and honors from different countries. Her tireless life long work in Philanthropic field is vast and well known ranging from Save the Beacon Theater, Save the Boat People, Help the Homeless, natural disasters of earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as relief to AIDS and HIV positive children in Africa. She has been a dedicated Board Member to both the J. Luce Foundation and Orphans International for years. Her work focuses on the Tibetan people; Tibetan children remain especially strong in her heart. She raised fund for the new academic building for Manjushree Orphanage in Tawang, India and supported many aspects of the school. See HuffPo pieces entitled Japanese Holistic Healer in NYC to Build School for Tibetan Orphans in India, A Japanese Dinner with Raul Castro’s Daughter, and NYC Gala in Support of Tibetan Orphans Set for January.

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