The Westside Theatre was originally designed as the Second German Baptist Church by the architect Henry F. Kilburn. Construction began on September 17, 1889 and was completed on April 29, 1890. At that time the estimated cost of erecting the building was $25,000.
The first secular use of the building occurred in 1968 when it became a discotheque called Club Sanctuary. After four years, the club’s popularity waned and on April 5, 1972 Club Sanctuary closed.
On October 17, 1973, THE CONTRACTOR by David Storey became the first play produced here by the Chelsea Theatre Group. The building was renamed the Chelsea Westside Theatre. VANITIES and STRIDER are among the plays that appeared at the theatre with Robert Kalfin as its Producing Director.
From 1981 until 1990, the theatre was managed by Raymond L. Gaspard under the name, The Westside Arts Theatre. THE MISS FIRECRACKER CONTEST, FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE, SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU, and PENN AND TELLER are a few of the many productions hosted by the Westside Arts.
Currently the theatre is under the management of Reno Productions, Inc. After an extensive renovation, Reno Productions opened the theatre in March of 1991 under the name The Westside Theatre. The Kander and Ebb musical AND THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND and Rick Reynolds’ ONLY THE TRUTH IS FUNNY (in the Upstairs and Downstairs Theatres respectively) were the inaugural productions under the new management.
Other notable productions include NIXON’S NIXON, THE CRYPTOGRAM, I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE (a record-breaking twelve year run), FULL GALLOP, Eve Ensler’s THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES, Nora and Delia Ephron’s LOVE LOSS AND WHAT I WORE, OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES, MY NAME IS ASHER LEV, SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF, and THE BELLE OF AMHERST