The ever-growing Roundabout Theatre Company continues to expand its real estate base. The nonprofit titan—which opened its splashy new Broadway home, the American Airlines Theatre, just last year, and will assume a commercial lease on the American Place Theatre on W. 46th Street in November 2002—will buy Studio 54, the longtime home of its hit revival of Cabaret.
The Roundabout also currently works out of the rented Gramercy Theater on E. 23rd Street.
The Roundabout will purchase Studio 54—which is still named for the famed discotheque which existed at that address for a few heady years in the last 70s—for $25 million. According to New York Newsday, the nonprofit will buy the property using $9 million from New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs and $32 million raised from the sale of triple tax-exempt bonds.
Cabaret was moved from the Henry Miller Theatre to Studio 54 in 1998, after a construction accident closed down the former location for several weeks. The show is still running and is the biggest's hit in Roundabout history. A spokesman for the Roundabout would not comment on the deal to buy the theatre, but a Roundabout official told Newsday that "Keeping Studio 54 is an important part of its mission" to stage revivals. He did not say whether the space would become a home exclusively to musicals.
* In a previous written statement, Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes said the company would rename the American Place theatre, the Laura Pels Theatre, in honor of the producer, philanthropist, long-term Roundabout board member and Theatre de l’Atelier in Paris owner, Laura Pels.
Roundabout said that "following an extensive renovation expected to be finished by spring of 2003, the new Laura Pels Theatre will be home to Roundabout’s Off-Broadway productions, focusing on revisited classic plays and new works by established writers." Roundabout has been temporarily staging its Off-Broadway productions at the Gramercy Theatre at 127 E. 23 St. and that arrangement will continue through 2002. A spokesman could not say whether the Gramercy would be a Roundabout home beyond that.
The American Place Theatre was one of four venues built under a special 1971 zoning amendment passed by the City Planning Commission under then NYC Mayor John Lindsay. It has been leased to American Place for just $5 a year. American Place's original lease was extended at least once. American Place's current lease is up in June 2002. At this time, American Place's theatre comprises three theatre spaces; the Main Stage theatre can seat as many as 384; the First Floor theatre seats 74; and the Sub Plot theatre seats up to 74 as well. While renovations at 111 W. 46 St. are indicated by the Roundabout, specifics were not available. There was no word on the scope of the work Roundabout has planned there.