The Roundabout Theatre Company will assume a commercial lease on the American Place Theatre (111 W. 46 St.) on July 1, 2000, Playbill On-Line has learned.
The theatre, one of four built under a special 1971 zoning amendment passed by the City Planning Commission under then NYC Mayor John Lindsay, has been leased to American Place for just $5 a year. American Place's original lease was extended at least once. When American Place's current lease is up in June 2002, a reliable source said, Roundabout is expected step in and assume control of the space at something closer to market rates.
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.
Roundabout just opened its own permanent home, the 750-seat American Airlines Theatre at 227 W. 42 St. The nation's second-largest nonprofit theatre company (next to Lincoln Center) also has a long-term lease for Studio 54, where Cabaret is playing, and is also renting the Gramercy Theatre, where Neil Simon's Hotel Suite is playing through Sept. 3.
A few weeks ago, Roundabout's Todd Haimes told journalists that his company had its sights on a major Off-Broadway theatre in the Times Square area. Not long after, certain stage equipment was donated by American Place to the New York City Fringe Festival/Present Company. Theatre for a New Audience has just announced that it will present a two show season at American Place featuring Edward Bond's Saved and Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, the latter marking Sir Peter Hall's Off-Broadway directorial debut.
A call for comment to Roundabout was not answered by press time.
When American Place quits 111 W. 46 St., it will take that name with it, offering Roundabout another major theatre naming opportunity. Sources said that American Place is looking for new space and plans to continue its programs, including the Los Angeles and New York chapters of the arts and education program, "Literature to Life."
-- By Murdoch McBride