Theatre Details
American Airlines Theatre

227 W 42nd St

New York, NY 10036

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

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Theater Description:
Originally named the Selwyn Theatre, it was designed by the architect George Keister and constructed by the Selwyn brothers, Edgar and Archie, in 1918. It was one of three theatres they built and controlled on 42nd Street, along with the Apollo and the Times Square Theatre. It was decorated in the style of the Italian Renaissance, and originally had 1,180 seats.[2] At the time of its opening, the design had several innovations. Its most novel feature was separate smoking rooms for men and women. Additionally, each dressing room was equipped with a shower and telephone.

The venue initially hosted major musical and dramatic productions, including Cole Porter's Wake Up and Dream, and in October 1930 Clifton Webb appeared there in Three's a Crowd, but eventually became a cinema. It would return to legitimate theatre several times over the next six decades, but eventually fell into disrepair. It was used briefly in the early 1990s as a home for the Times Square Visitors Center and for a limited production of Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape, but for the most part, stood vacant.

The City and State of New York took possession of the Selwyn in 1990. In 1992, it was one of six 42nd Street theatres to fall under the protection of the New 42nd Street organization. The Roundabout Theatre Company committed to renovating the Selwyn in 1997. It was restored to its former grandeur (albeit now with just 740 seats), renamed the American Airlines in honor of its principal sponsor, and reopened on June 30, 2000. The American Airlines Theatre, which is still informally known by its former name among many theatre fans, currently serves as the home of the Roundabout and houses its major dramatic productions.