Monday, November 16, 2015

THE ETERNAL SPACE: Tribute to the Old Pennsylvania Station: Review by Polly Guerin

Not everyone cares about the old Pennsylvania Station, but many New Yorkers and landmark aficionados still remember its grandeur and its majestic Cathedral imagery. 
     Now Justin Rivers brings to Theater Row's Lion Theater "The Eternal Space," play that charts an unlikely friendship during the social and cultural upheavals of the mid-1960s.
    Directed by Mindy Cooper, the play is set against the skeleton images of the wrecking crews' demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station by using original photography from the journalists who documented the station's destruction and recreations of broadcast recordings of the day. "I decided the demolition photography would have to be central to the show," said Rivers. "Not only would it provide the backdrop for all the scenes, it would be a living presence on the stage. and became the third character on the stage." The Eternal Space features photography of Norman McGrath, Peter Moore, Alexander Hatos, Ron Ziel and Aaron Rose. 
     Central to the play are the two actors.  As the wrecking crew worked to dismantle the 53-year-
Matthew Pilicci as Paul  & Clyde Baldo as Joseph
-old architectural marvel, a chance meeting between a photographer and an English teacher sparks a three year odyssey where one man fights to keep the station standing while the other tears it down.  Just two players tell the story, of the majestic station with Clyde Baldo as Joseph Lanzarone and Matthew Pilicci as 
Paul Abbot. They command the stage in a synergistic debate that tells the riveting story of the demise of the station. 
    Why is this play important?   It pays homage to the once grand Pennsylvania Station. Most significantly it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the demolition of the old Penn Station, October 28th, 1963, which marked the end of an era in New York City history.  The most dramatic result of the station's demise is
Postcard :General Waiting Room Penn R.R. Station N.Y. C.
the fact that the loss of the beaux-arts Penn Station invigorated and launched the efforts of the preservation movement both locally and nationally. National legislation that followed would later be critical to saving Grand Central Terminal and other New York City buildings. Playwright Justin Rivers wrote the first draft of The Eternal Space in 2002 as a testament to all the things we don't appreciate until they're gone. The Eternal Space resonates with these sentiments and poignantly captures what New York City lost among the treasures of the city. Opposite: A postcard image of the old Pennsylvania Station in its glory days. The Eternal Space is presented at Theatre Row's Lion Theatre, located at 410 West 42nd Street in New York City. To view the performance schedule and purchase tickets visit: In addition a Tour of the Remnants of the Original Penn Station will be led by The Eternal Space playwright Justine Rivers on December 6, 2015. Tickets at

      Ta Ta Darlings!!! If your are an historian aficionado, as I am, well need I say more head over to the Lion's Theatre and pay tribute to the old Penn Station. Fan mail welcome please email me at  Visit Polly's Blogs at and in the right-hand column click on the direct link to the Blog that resonates with your interest.

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