The Roundabout Theater Company has announced that the Henry Miller’s Theater, one of the Broadway venues operated by the Gotham nonprofit, will be renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theater.
Dedication to the legendary Main Stem songsmith comes after a small group of Sondheim fans shelled out what’s described as a “generous” contribution to the Roundabout to support company’s Musical Production Fund.
Amount of the gift was not disclosed. In past years, American Airlines scored the naming rights for the former Selwyn Theater (also run by Roundabout) as part of what was reportedly an $8.5 million deal.
Renaming announcement was made in the midst of a slew of Sondheim celebrations around the city this spring, all fetes for the composer-lyricist’s 80th birthday, which was Monday. Dedication was announced Monday night at a gala perf of the Roundabout’s new Broadway revue of Sondheim songs, “Sondheim on Sondheim,” playing at the org’s Studio 54.
The sale of naming rights for Broadway theaters can sometimes prove a bone of contention among legiters. Purists resent having a corporation name, such as American Airlines, take the place of the more traditional nod to a theater luminary, while nonprofits running Broadway houses (like Roundabout) counter that their orgs benefit substantially from the additional coin brought in by hawking naming rights.
But given Sondheim’s undisputed stature among stage creatives, this particular renaming seems likely to get a thumbs-up from traditionalists.
The Henry Miller’s, essentially a brand new theater behind a pre-existing facade, reopened last fall under the programming stewardship of Roundabout, which can choose either to house one of its own productions there (as with “Bye Bye Birdie,” the revival that inaugurated the venue) or to rent the space out to commercial producers (as with “All About Me,” the theater’s current tenant).
Renaming will be made official after “All About Me” ends its limited run, skedded through July 18.
Roundabout has a long history with Sondheim, producing a string of revivals of the composer’s work that includes “Assassins,” “Pacific Overtures,” “Company,” “Follies” and “Sunday in the Park with George.”