Symphony Space, founded by Isaiah Sheffer and Allan Miller, is a multi-disciplinary performing arts organization at 2537 Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Performances take place in the 760-seat Peter Jay Sharp Theatre or the 160-seat Leonard Nimoy Thalia. Programs include music, dance, theater, film, and literary readings. In addition, Symphony Space provides literacy programs and the Curriculum Arts Project, which integrates performing arts into social studies curricula in New York City Public Schools.
Symphony Space traces its beginnings to a free marathon concert, Wall to Wall Bach, held on January 9, 1978, organized by Isaiah Sheffer and Alan Miller. From 1978 to 2001, the theater hosted all of the New York productions by the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players. As of 2010, Symphony Space hosts 600 or more events annually, including an annual free music Wall to Wall marathon; Bloomsday on Broadway (celebrating James Joyce's Ulysses); and Selected Shorts, broadcast nationally over Public Radio International. The New York company of Revels, Inc., also holds its shows there.
The Thalia Theater was built by the experienced theater architect Raymond Irrera, and his novice assistant, Ben Schlanger. Schlanger introduced numerous innovations, including the "reverse parabolic" design for the floor. After World War II, the Thalia gained a reputation as an arty repertory film theater. Its regular patrons included Woody Allen, Peter Bogdanovich, and Martin Scorsese. Woody Allen used it in Annie Hall.
The Thalia closed in 1987, its future clouded by disputes between Symphony Space and various developers. After Symphony Space won, the Thalia reopened briefly in 1993 and again in 1996. In 1999, Sheffer had the Art Deco interior gutted as unsalvageable, angering some neighborhood preservationists. The interior was used as a staging area for construction of a 22-story apartment building above Symphony Space. Afterwards the interior was rebuilt as a theater again, and in 2002 the space was re-opened as the Leonard Nimoy Thalia, acknowledging the actor's financing.