Selwyn Named for $8.5M Benefactor American Airlines March 1

News   Selwyn Named for $8.5M Benefactor American Airlines March 1 The Roundabout Theatre Company will name its new home, the renovated Selwyn Theatre on West 42nd Street, in honor of American Airlines, which has reportedly donated $8.5M over a period of time.
Proposed look for the American Airlines Theatre.
Proposed look for the American Airlines Theatre.

The Roundabout Theatre Company will name its new home, the renovated Selwyn Theatre on West 42nd Street, in honor of American Airlines, which has reportedly donated $8.5M over a period of time.

The size and nature of the gift were reported in the New York Times March 1. Exact details are expected at a press conference today.

A prepared statement regarding the pending press conference said that the theatre company will announce a "landmark agreement" and "to show its appreciation for the largest philanthropic gift in the theatre company's 35-year history, the newly restored Selwyn Theatre, Roundabout's new home, will be renamed to reflect the gracious donor."

Roundabout needs $21 million to reconstruct and renovate the theatre, and has been seeking additional benefactors interested in a "naming opportunity" for the theatre.

Roundabout sources could not comment whether the donation also put the country's leading nonprofit over the top for its $21 million fundraising goal. In December, Roundabout fundraiser Julia C. Levy told Playbill On-Line, "Our goal is to open the Selwyn debt free. We're looking to completely fund the project by June 2000." At that time, the Roundabout reported having over $15 million with 42,000 subscribers. Since December, the theatre company reports having $16.6 million in its coffers with a 45,000 subscriber base. The Roundabout also has an extensive network of educational programs and community outreach efforts underway.

The announcement of the Roundabout's donor and the renaming of the former Selwyn will take place during a press conference at the theatre, which is located at 240 West 43rd Street on March 1.

As reported earlier, the once-itinerant theatre company will host a major fundraiser on March 3 celebrating the opening of the former Selwyn.

In concert with the James Beard Foundation, the theatre company will host the seventh and final "Dinner of the Decade," a $1,000-$2,000 a plate cocktail reception and dinner gala that will help finance the theatre group. The reception will be held at the former Selwyn and revellers will then move to the Millennium Broadway at 145 West 44th Street for a dinner in the hotel's Gallery Eight. The 10,850-square-foot Gallery Eight's reception/dinner capacity is 600 persons, meaning that proceeds from the event could easily reach into the mid-six-figure range. Roundabout and James Beard Foundation will share proceeds, according to production notes.

Roundabout is mid-stream with several projects. First and foremost is its current season which still includes, at a glance, Uncle Vanya, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Arms and the Man, and Hotel Suite. On its long journey to prosperity, the Roundabout has called everything from a former Manhattan grocery store space to the Criterion Center in Times Square "home." This year the company will have had shows running at several venues, including the Brooks Atkinson, the former Selwyn, the Gramercy Theatre and Studio 54.

The first show to open at the former Selwyn will be Uncle Vanya, which is scheduled to open (barring any additional construction delays) April 30.

For further information on the Roundabout Theatre call (212) 719 9393.

-- By Murdoch McBride