The Roundabout Theatre Company tonight renamed its Broadway venue – a 104-year-old building that began as the Selwyn and most recently went by the prosaic American Airlines Theatre – to honor its late artistic director Todd Haimes.
The 42nd Street venue officially became the Todd Haimes Theatre in a dedication ceremony tonight. The name change was announced last June, and becomes official just in time to welcome its first tenant: The revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt: A Parable, directed by Scott Ellis and starring Tyne Daly and Liev Schreiber, begins previews this Friday ahead of a February 29 opening night.
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The venue’s name change was made to honor, in the words of the company, the “extraordinary dedication to the institution [Haimes] called home, and his enormous contributions to Roundabout and the entire theatre community.”
Haimes, the Roundabout’s artistic director and chief executive for nearly 40 years, died at age 66 on April 19, 2023, from complications of osteosarcoma.
During his tenure with Roundabout, Haines grew the company for a 150-seat space in a converted Chelsea basement into one of the leading cultural institutions in New York City and the largest not-for-profit theater in America. Roundabout now has five Broadway and Off Broadway spaces: In addition to the newly renamed Haimes, Roundabout’s Broadway venues include Studio 54 and the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The company’s Off Broadway venues – the Laura Pels and the Black Box – are housed in Roundabout’s Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre.
Constructed in 1918, the Selwyn was the last of the Broadway theaters built on 42nd Street. Designed by George Keister in an early Italian Renaissance style, the Selwyn, as with many other legit venues, was transformed into a movie house following the Great Depression. Eventually, it fell into disrepair and was abandoned.
In the 1980s, the Selwyn was acquired by the 42nd Street Development Project, an agency founded by Empire State Development and the City’s Economic Development Corporation. The New 42nd Street Inc. – an independent, non-profit organization created by New York City and New York State, which has long-term responsibility for seven of the nine historic theaters on 42nd Street – entered into a long-term lease of the Selwyn with Roundabout in 1998. A $24 million renovation was undertaken with support from the City and private donors along with a gift from American Airlines. Roundabout renamed the venue for its corporate donor.
The restored venue opened as Roundabout’s flagship Broadway home in 2000 with The Man Who Came To Dinner, starring Nathan Lane. In addition to various education programs and career training initiatives, the venue has been home to Tony Award-winning and -nominated productions of Big River (2003), The Pajama Game (2006), On the Twentieth Century (2015), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (2016), A Soldier’s Play (2020) and Trouble in Mind (2021).
Following the limited run of Doubt – closing night is April 14 – the Haimes will house the new Samm-Art Williams play Home, directed by Kenny Leon, with previews beginning May 17 ahead of a June 5 opening.
Roundabout’s recently announced 2024-2025 season – the first complete season at the Todd Haimes Theatre under the leadership of Interim Artistic Director Scott Ellis – will include the Broadway premiere of Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang, directed by Leigh Silverman and starring Daniel Dae Kim; the Broadway premiere of Sanaz Toossi’s Pulitzer Prize & Obie Award-winning English, directed by Knud Adams; and a new jazz-infused, New Orleans-style production of The Pirates of Penzance by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, adapted by Rupert Holmes, choreographed by Warren Carlyle and directed by Scott Ellis.
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