The 104-year-old theater formerly known as the Selwyn – and soon to be formerly known as the American Airlines – will be renamed to honor the late Todd Haimes, the artistic director and guiding force behind the Roundabout Theatre Company who died in April.
The naming of the Todd Haimes Theatre was announced last night as members of the Broadway community honored Haimes by dimming the marquees of all 41 Broadway theaters. The new name is designed to recognize Haimes’ “extraordinary dedication to the institution he called home, and his enormous contributions to Roundabout and the entire theatre community.”
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“Last year, when the thought of naming the theater after Todd arose, our instinct was to honor a visionary producer who had led Roundabout from a basement under a supermarket in Chelsea to an indelible force in the American theatre,” said Roundabout Vice Chair Lawrence Kaplen in a statement. “I am proud to be a member of a board of directors, which is united in their commitment to preserve Todd’s legacy with this distinct honor.”
Haimes died of complications of osteosarcoma at the age of 66 on April 19.
The Todd Haimes Theatre will be unveiled and dedicated during Roundabout’s 2023-2024 season, which opens on Broadway this fall with the world premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s I Need That, starring Danny DeVito and directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel.
LaChanze, who recently starred in Roundabout’s Trouble in Mind and sits on the theater company’s board of directors, said during a speech at the light-dimming last night, “Todd was a leader. Todd was a friend. Todd was a true visionary, planting the seeds to cultivate theater for generations of audiences to come. If you look in the dictionary under ‘theater geek’ you would find Todd’s face, beaming with pride. He was someone that I’ve gotten to know, to respect, to love and to admire. He was genuinely one of the kindest men I’ve ever known.”
In the late 1990s Haimes restored the historic Selwyn to become the flagship home for Roundabout on Broadway. Renamed the American Airlines Theatre, the renovated venue opened in 2000 with The Man Who Came To Dinner, starring Nathan Lane. Since then, the building has provided space for Roundabout’s education programs and career training initiatives, and the stage 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).
The Tony-nominated production of Fat Ham is currently playing at the theater as a limited engagement. Following this fall’s I Need That, Roundabout will stage the first Broadway revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt: A Parable, directed by Scott Ellis and starring Tyne Daly and Liev Schreiber; and Home by Samm-Art Williams, directed by Kenny Leon. Dates for these productions will be announced soon.
Haimes is widely credited with transforming the not-for-profit theater landscape through his stewardship of the Roundabout company, which began in 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. The Roundabout now encompasses five venues, including three Broadway houses – Studio 54, the Stephen Sondheim Theatre and the renamed Todd Haimes Theatre – and Off Broadway’s Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, which houses the Laura Pels Theatre and Black Box Theatre.
The renaming was spearheaded by Board members Lawrence Kaplen (Vice Chair), Katheryn Patterson Kempner (Chair) and Thomas E. Tuft (First Vice Chair) and through leadership gifts to the Todd Haimes Fund for Artistic Excellence.
Constructed in 1918 and the last of the theaters built on 42nd Street, the Selwyn was designed by George Keister in tribute to early Italian Renaissance style. Following the Depression, the venue was made into a movie house, eventually abandoned after falling into decades of disrepair. In the 1980s, the Selwyn was acquired by the 42nd Street Development Project, an agency founded by the State’s Empire Development Corporation and the City’s Economic Development Corporation, and in 1997 Roundabout was invited by the City and State of New York to participate in the redevelopment of 42nd Street. Following a $24 million renovation, which was paid in part by a gift from American Airlines, the venue opened in 2000 under the name of the corporate donor.
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