overview

Opened as the Selwyn Theater in 1918, this venue staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including, among others, W. Somerset Maugham, Beatrice Lillie, Noel Coward, and Cole Porter, during its brief history as a legitimate theater.

After becoming a movie theater in 1934, the venue was renovated and reopened as the American Airlines Theater in 2000.

Header Photo

Credit: Interior of the American Airlines Theater. Source: Spotlight on Broadway.

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History

This venue was originally known as the Selwyn Theater. During its brief history as a legitimate theater, the Selwyn enjoyed success with a number of LGBT-associated productions with major figures. These included The Circle (1921-22) by W. Somerset Maugham; Andre Charlot’s Revue of 1924 (opened at the Times Square Theater) and Charlot Revue (1925-26), with Beatrice Lillie; This Year of Grace (1928-29), with book, music and lyrics by Noel Coward, scenic and costume design by Oliver Messel and others, and with actors Coward and Beatrice Lillie; Wake Up and Dream! (1929-30), with music and lyrics by Cole Porter; Three’s a Crowd (1930-31), with Libby Holman and Clifton Webb; and Walk a Little Faster (1932-33), with Beatrice Lillie (opened at the St. James Theater).

In 1934, it became a movie theater. Between 1997 and 2000, the theater interior was renovated and many of its original features were restored; during that time, the historic front façade collapsed.

Since the theater’s reopening, The Man Who Came to Dinner (revival, 2000), with costume design by William Ivey Long, and with actor Nathan Lane, was produced here.

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