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An apartment in the Hell’s Kitchen building where Meryl Streep made her Off-Broadway debut is now on sale for a cool $2.39 million. Totally doable on an actor’s budget!!
The condo at 414 W51st Street (between 9/10th Avenue)— one of three in the building once occupied by the Off-Broadway Cubiculo Theater and National Shakespeare Company — is an 1,800-square foot, two-bedroom, two-bath loft, complete with 12-foot ceilings, an in-unit washer/dryer and garbage disposal (a true unicorn in this city), Subzero fridge, Dacor gas cooktop, marble and quartz countertops, exposed brick and a backyard garden with grill.
Not included? Streep’s mastery of performing the written word and the unwritten word. But perhaps you can imagine what it was like when she walked these (gut renovated) halls in 1971 performing the role of Tibsea in Tirso de Molina’s 17th century drama The Playboy of Seville (originally titled The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest), where Streep received promising reviews as “the most outstanding of Don Juan’s lovers”.
Streep spent her time at W51st Street as part of the Cubiculo Theatre, an experimental Off-Broadway wing of the National Shakespeare Company, founded in 1962 by a married pair of artists, director Philip Meister and actor Elaine Sulka. The theater, named after a line from Act III scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in which character Sir Toby Belch declares, “We’ll call thee at the cubiculo: go”, became not only a repertory company for classical works, mixed media performances, poetry showcases and contemporary theater premieres, but also a pivotal training ground for early career artists, including Streep. “The Cube”, as it was known, also operated as a Shakespeare conservatory run by a cornucopia of prominent teaching artists who would go on to work at the Stella Adler Studio of acting.
When Meister died in 1982 of a heart attack, his memorial was held at the Cubiculo space. Sulka continued to operate the theater until her death of a heart attack in 1994, when her memorial was also held at the Cubiculo space. Mused Boni Joy Kolilker in an article for the New York Public Library: “I am sure the ghosts of Philip Meister and Elaine Sulka still inhabit the space” — another bonus for the future owner of the condo!
While the building hasn’t been a temple to the theater and Ms. Streep’s acting prowess in years, it does still possess a higher power, as the basement of the brownstone holds the Every Nation Church. That said, if you do choose to throw down a couple mil on the Cubiculo, you could technically hold your own experimental living room readings whenever you want. Maybe Meryl will make a cameo!
And if you’re more of a renter than a buyer — there’s another bargain-priced 4-bedroom apartment upstairs for only $12,500 a month!
The Cubiculo! WOW! So much really grand theatre was nurtured there. It dates from an era when artists could actually afford to live and work in Manhattan; before real estate developers took over the City. Precious few artists are billionaires.
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