American Airlines Theater (interior)

227 W 42nd St New York

LGBT Theater District/American Airlines Theater (interior)
NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
Written By NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

The first initiative to document historic and cultural sites associated with the LGBT community in New York City, illustrating the richness of the city's history and the community's influence on America.

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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Building Information

Architect or Builder: George Keister Year Built: 1918

Sources

Adam Hetrick, “The Work of Broadway’s Gay and Lesbian Artistic Community Goes on Display Nov. 14 When the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation Gallery Presents ‘StageStruck: The Magic of Theatre Design’,” Playbill, Nov. 14, 2007. Internet Broadway Database. “The 1st List of: Gay/Lesbian/Bi Industry People, Both in Front and Behind the Camera,” www.imdb.com, May 31, 2013.

Cover Photo

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

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