Good Night, Alice.
That was the title Monday night of the final show at Alice Tully Hall before it closes for the next year and a half _ the first major project in the $900 million architectural renewal of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Starring Wynton Marsalis and Laurie Anderson, the evening was hosted by former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and is to be broadcast nationally on PBS on Thursday (check local listings).
"Alice is only 38 years old, but like all of us, she needs a little tune-up," Brokaw told a capacity audience of about 1,000, some of them donors who pledged a total of more than $5 million for the evening.
The orchestra of the Juilliard School, which shares the building with the hall, struck up tunes from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story." The nation's premier arts complex, on Manhattan's West Side, was built mostly in the 1960s on land that was once the slummy turf of urban gangs who inspired Bernstein's musical.
The Lincoln Center complex, which draws about 5 million visitors a year, offers thousands of annual performances by a dozen constituents, including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Lincoln Center Theater, the New York City Ballet, the Chamber Music Society, the School of American Ballet, the New York City Opera, the Film Society and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jazz at Lincoln Center is several blocks away at Columbus Circle.
The last performance at Alice Tully Hall came with a whimsical twist: A group of people whose names include the word "Alice" were offered free tickets.
On Tuesday morning, workers moved into the hall and started ripping up its lobby, while cranes outside were digging deep into Broadway soil.
"This is the kind of creative destruction I love," said Lincoln Center President Reynold Levy, who on Tuesday joined a briefing on the project.
"Transparent" as well as "welcoming" and "open" are words officials often use to describe the Lincoln Center of the 21st century, sprinkled with high-tech visuals like LED zippers scrolling across staircases, all-glass canopies and a central fountain shooting up creative designs in water.
Starting next month, free wireless Internet access will be available on the 6.3 acres of the center's outdoor space.
The Tully renovation is part of the so-called 65th Street Project that will open up what Levy said was until now "a dark and dim corridor" _ a street flanked by walls.
The Juilliard School is being expanded, with Tully's light-filled new facade in glass and steel facing Broadway. Also on the Broadway side will be one of the center's 10 venues serving food and drink.
Architects from the firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro are designing most of the project, which is running "on track and on time," said Katherine Farley, chairman of the Lincoln Center Development Project.
New York City is the single largest contributor to what Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday called the city's "crown jewel." The city has so far committed up to $240 million toward the center's redevelopment, said Lincoln Center Inc. spokeswoman Betsy Vorce.
Levy reported that about two-thirds of the $900 million has been raised so far toward the renovation, to be completed by the 2009-2010 season.
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Good Night, Alice.