Todd Haimes, longtime artistic director and guiding light of Roundabout Theatre Company, passed away April 19 following complications of osteosarcoma. He was 66. The news was confirmed by Roundabout press representative Matt Polk.
Mr. Haimes, known widely for his tireless work transforming Roundabout from a 150-seat Off-Broadway company into one of the largest not-for-profit theatres in the United States, led the company for the last 39 years.
Born May 7, 1956 in New York City, Mr. Haimes joined Roundabout in 1983 when the company was operating in a Chelsea movie house. Initially the managing director, Mr. Haimes took out loans in his own name to keep the company afloat in his first weeks before the board of directors voted to shut down the enterprise. He fought back, and, at 26, was able to convince a board member to donate enough money to buy him the time to implement sweeping expenditure cuts, marketing improvements, and staff changes. Amongst his wide-reaching changes was an adjustment to curtain times to entice earlier theatre goers, discounts for children, and special events for different audience demographics. Remarkably, he turned the company around, growing it into one of the most powerful forces in the American theatre.
In 1989, Mr. Haimes became the producing director of Roundabout, rising to chief executive in 2015. In 1991, Mr. Haimes brought Roundabout to Broadway, where it soon became a bastion of revivals of classic work, as well as a home for new work. Currently, two new plays—Pictures From Home and Fat Ham—are utilizing Roundabout-owned theatres for their Broadway debuts, as well as the Broadway transfer of the Olivier-winning & Juliet. Under Mr. Haimes' guidance, Roundabout has grown to encompass three Broadway theatres: Studio 54, the American Airlines, and theStephen Sondheim; and Off-Broadway's Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre.
In total, Mr. Haimes was involved in 141 Broadway productions, in addition to his countless contributions to the Off-Broadway theatre ecosystem. Roundabout is responsible for one of the most expansive theatre education program in the country, which reaches more than 4,000 students annually, alongside extensive technical training programs to help underprivileged students find careers in the backstage aspects of theatre. During the COVID-19 shutdown, Roundabout created remote learning programs for the NYC Department of Education, ensuring that arts education would continue throughout New York City.
During Mr. Haimes' tenure, Roundabout won 34 Tony, 58 Drama Desk, 73 Outer Critics Circle, 21 Lucille Lortel, and 14 Obie Awards. In 2013, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lucille Lortel Awards, and in 2021 he received a portrait at Sardi's Restaurant, an honor which he particularly valued.
Mr. Haimes was the former President of the Board of The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York, and a member of the Tony Awards Administration Committee and the Broadway League Executive Committee. He has taught Theatre Administration in the graduate program at the Yale School of Drama and the Graduate Theatre Administration program at Brooklyn College. He holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master's Degree in Business Administration from the Yale School of Organization and Management.
Since 2002, he fought a private battle with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. Despite the sickness, he continued to lead the company through the 2022-2023 season, including the currently running Primary Trust, and national tours of 1776 and A Soldier’s Play.
A plan had been established with the full support and commitment from the Roundabout Board of Directors to elevate Deputy Artistic Director Scott Ellis to Interim Artistic Director. Ellis, who has worked by Mr. Haimes' side for more than 30 years, will work alongside Roundabout executive staff members Sydney Beers and Chris Nave until a permanent plan is executed.
He is survived by his wife, Jeanne-Marie; his children, Hilary and Andrew; his step-children, Julia and Kiki; his grandchildren, Corey, Josephine, Aiden, and Alexander; and the countless performers and audience members whose lives he impacted.
As a not-for-profit theatre company, Roundabout survives off of donations and funds raised from subscriptions to their annual season. In honor of Mr. Haimes, donations may be made to A.R.T. New York and the Todd Haimes Fund for Artistic Excellence at Roundabout Theatre Company.