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Contact SFTN to find out how to get your production pictures posted here on our blog.

Your South Florida Theatre's Production Pictures Here

Contact SFTN to find out how to get your production pictures posted here on our blog.

Your South Florida Theatre's Production Pictures Here

Contact SFTN to find out how to get your production pictures posted here on our blog.

Your South Florida Theatre's Production Pictures Here

Contact SFTN to find out how to get your production pictures posted here on our blog.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Past Week In Theatre History (June 25 – June 29)


The Past Week In Theatre History (June 25 – June 29)
By David Gewirtzman, Robert Viagas,
Ernio Hernandez, and Doug Nevins


1887 Birthday of legendary director George Abbott (1887-1995) whose long life (107 years) and colossal catalog (more than 110 Broadway shows, sometimes also as producer, writer or even actor) remains unparalleled. Among his projects were original productions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, On the Town, Wonderful Town, Once Upon a Mattress, Fiorello!, Damn Yankees, On Your Toes, The Pajama Game, Where's Charley?, Pal Joey and literally dozens more.

1888 Birthday of Antoinette Perry (1888-1946), an actress and groundbreaking woman stage director who will help found the American Theatre Wing. In gratitude, the Wing will name its annual theatre awards after her, now known by their nickname, The Tony Awards.

1894 (probably) Actress Jeanne Eagels, best known for playing Miss Thompson in Rain, is born today.

1902 Birthday of Richard Rodgers (1902-1979), one of the most prolific and successful Broadway composers. His greatest successes came in partnership with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II (Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music, etc.) and Lorenz Hart (On Your Toes, Babes in Arms, Pal Joey, A Connecticut Yankee, By Jupiter etc.).

1911 Irving Berlin makes his Broadway debut with the fifth edition of the Ziegfeld Follies. His songs include "Woodman, Woodman, Spare That Tree" and "You've Built a Fire Down in My Heart."

1926 Birthday of funnyman Mel Brooks, who will go on to write for TV's "Your Show of Shows" and Broadway musicals Shinbone Alley and All American before departing for a long career in Hollywood. He will return to Broadway in trumph in 2001 with a musical adaptation of his Broadway satire, The Producers.

1946 Actress Antoinette Perry dies today at age 58. An actress during her lifetime, Perry's name will become immortalized when the Theatre Wing's Antoinette Perry Awards for excellence on Broadway, known more commonly as the Tonys, are founded in her memory.

1950 Censorship will prove to be a problem when Michael Todd's Peep Show opens at New York's Winter Garden Theatre. The legendary producer of the title will soon be forced to tone down the revue as a result of talks with the city's Commissioner of Licenses.

1951 Amidst the red scare of the Cold War era, actor J. Edward Bromberg refuses to answer questions at a hearing before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. A member of the Group Theatre, Bromberg's acting credits include Awake and Sing! and The Big Knife.

1952 Harold Rome's musical Wish You Were Here, set in the world of mountain summer resorts, opens a 598-performance run at the Imperial Theatre, starring Jack Cassidy, Larry Blyden and Sheila Bond, who will win a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical. The show is memorable for featuring a swimming pool on stage.

1954 A star is born as Carol Haney's understudy in The Pajama Game goes on in place of the ailing actress and is discovered by theatre critic George Freedly. Writes Freedly in his review of the musical: "The night I saw the show, Miss Haney was sick and her understudy Shirley MacLaine took over. It was one of the most accomplished and completely professional performances I have had the pleasure of enjoying." It will not be long at all before the future Academy Award winner MacLaine will come to Hollywood's attention.

1970 Tom Eyen's The Dirtiest Show in Town comes to Off-Broadway at the Astor Palace Theatre. Bare flesh and simulated sex run rampant in the show that plays 509 performances.

1973 The Theater Development Fund TKTS booth opens for (discount) business at Broadway and 47th street. The booth will prove a landmark of the New York theatre world by providing same-day tickets to audiences to many performances, both on Broadway and off, at discounted prices.

1975 George C. Scott stars as Arthur Miller's tragic hero Willy Loman in a revival of Death of a Salesman at Circle in the Square on Broadway. The play, directed by Scott, also features Teresa Wright, Harvey Keitel and James Farentino as the Loman family.

1980 Gus Weil's play, To Bury a Cousin, originally saw the stage in 1967. The play now receives an Off-Broadway revival at the Cherry Lane Theatre, where it is directed by Phillip Oesterman and features Harry Goz and Diane Tarleton.

1982 Theatre marries music as legendary stage and film director Elia Kazan ties the knot with Frances Rudge, former wife of the manager of The Rolling Stones. The controversial director's many credits include the original Broadway outings of Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as such classic films as "On The Waterfront" and the film version of "Streetcar."

1983 Broadway's Alvin Theatre, home of the original Broadway production of Annie, is renamed in honor of celebrated American playwright Neil Simon. The Neil Simon Theatre will go on to house many Broadway smashes, including revivals of The King and I and The Music Man, and the original production of Hairspray.

1990 Robert Louis Stevenson is rocking and rolling Off-Broadway as his Jekyll and Hyde is turned into a rock musical, courtesy of composer Michael Skloff with book and lyrics by the team of David Crane and Marta Kauffman. Seven years later, Frank Wildhorn will try his hand at the dual-personality drama on Broadway.

1990 William Finn follows up his In Trousers and March of the Falsettos with the final of the "Marvin Trilogy," Falsettoland. This all-sung musical starring Michael Rupert, Chip Zien, and Faith Prince throws AIDS into the mix of the already complex issue of sexual identity. The production, which opens tonight at Playwrights Horizons, will later transfer to the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

1991 Two couples find themselves celebrating the Fourth of July on Fire Island together when Terrence McNally's play, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, opens today at the Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center. The play stars Nathan Lane and Swoosie Kurtz, and Christine Baranski and Anthony Heald, as the two married pairs. Following a succesful engagement here, the production will transfer to Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre for a commercial run in January 1992.

1991 George Bernard Shaw's Getting Married is revived on Broadway at Circle in the Square. Stephen Porter directs a cast that includes Elizabeth Franz, Patrick Tull, Simon Jones, Madeleine Potter and Walter Bobbie. The production will play 70 performances and close Aug. 25.

1993 Americans discover a benign Indian elephant God in Terrence McNally's play, A Perfect Ganesh, opening today at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Among the cast of discoverers are Zoe Caldwell, Frances Sternhagen and Fisher Stevens.

1993 Howard Crabtree's Whoop-Dee-Doo!, the musical revue conceived, created and developed by Charles Catanese, Phillip George, Peter Morris, Dick Gallagher, Mark Waldrop and its namesake, Howard Crabtree, opens at the Actors' Playhouse. The latter three would later collaborate on When Pigs Fly, but Crabtree will fall ill due to complications of AIDS and die June 28, 1996 before the show opened on Aug. 14.

1994 Former Miss America Vanessa Williams makes her Broadway debut today when she replaces Tony Award winner Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman. With weekly box office attendance floating around the 70 percent mark, Williams' entrance will bring a much-needed boost to the show's box office business. By August, the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical will find itself playing to standing room audiences on many nights.

1998 Warren Leight's play Side Man opens tonight at the Roundabout Theater's Stage Right Auditorium as a last minute replacement production. Under the direction of Michael Mayer is a cast including Frank Wood, Wendy Makkena, and Robert Sella. Upon its closing at the Roundabout, the jazz-themed comedy drama will take up shop for an open-ended commercial run at Broadway's John Golden Theater, with movie star Christian Slater replacing Sella as the narrator, Clifford. Come June, the play, by now having been cited as a Pulitzer Prize finalist, will win Tony Awards for best play and best featured actor for Wood, as the side man himself.

1999 27 years after it premiered Off-Broadway at the Truck and Warehouse Theatre, Tennessee Williams' Small Craft Warnings will see the New York stage again when Worth Street Theater Company stages the lyrical drama. Based on an earlier Williams one-act, Confessional, from 1969, the play is set in a bar in a Southern California coastal town.

1999 Al Pacino reprises his Broadway role in Eugene O'Neill's Hughie at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum. He directs the production and stars in it, as he did in 1996 at the Circle in the Square. As he did in the Broadway production, Paul Benedict plays opposite Pacino.

2000 Thrice extended at Chicago's Goodman Studio Theatre, Rebecca Gilman's comedy Spinning Into Butter now gets to melt the hearts of New Yorkers. Directed by Daniel Sullivan, the show arrives at Lincoln Center Theater's Off- Broadway venue, the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre.

2001 Urinetown, which began life at the New York Fringe Festival, ends its run at a tiny Off-Broadway Theatre en route to what seemed at the time a highly dubious transfer to Broadway. The show will become a hit, win Tony Awards for Best Book and Score, run 965 performances.

2001 Luke Perry, star of TV's "Beverly Hills 90210," joins the cast of Broadway's The Rocky Horror Show.

2002 Dolores Gray, sultry-voiced Tony-winning actress (Carnival in Flanders) who starred on Broadway in Two on the Aisle, Destry Rides Again and 42nd Street, dies today in New York. Her birth year has been variously reported as 1924 and 1930.

2002 Ira Eaker, co-founder and co-publisher of the entertainment trade paper Back Stage, dies in Tamarac, Florida, at age 80.

2002 To celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of composer Richard Rodgers, Broadway stars gathers for a concert at the Gershwin Theatre. Aptly titled "Something Good: A Broadway Salute to Richard Rodgers on His 100th Birthday," the concert features performances by Sutton Foster, Hunter Foster, Lea Salonga, Patrick Wilson, Shuler Hensley, Laura Benanti, John Bucchino, Barbara Cook, John Cullum, Erin Dilly, Marin Mazzie (accompanied by Stephen Flaherty), Howard McGillin, Lauren Mitchell, Louise Pitre, Billy Stritch, Mary Testa and the chorus of Oklahoma!.

2003 Katharine Hepburn, the legendary Oscar-winning actress whose heart always remained close to the live theatre, dies at age 96 at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, a few miles from the Ivoryton Playhouse where she played early stage roles. Among her stage roles was Coco Chanel in a 1970 musical, Coco, and in Broadway's The West Side Waltz, by Ernest Thompson, author of "On Golden Pond" (one of Hepburn's film hits). Her early Broadway triumphs included the original production of Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story. She won four Leading Actress Academy Awards in her lifetime and was nominated 12 times in the category.

2004 Musical Theatre Works, the not-for-profit Off-Broadway company that created and developed new musicals for 21 years, announces that it has run out of money and will shutter immediately.

2006 Lloyd Richards dies at 87. The groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning, African-American director shepherded the work of black playwrights Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson and served as the artistic director of the National Playwrights Conference — the O'Neill Center's founding program — for 32 years. He also served throughout the 1980s as dean of the Yale School of Drama and artistic director of Yale Repertory Theatre.

2008 Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, the family-friendly theatrical, acrobatic and musical adventure that evokes the exotica of untamed places, opens at the Broadway Theatre for a ten week run.

2009 A music-filled Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night, starring Raúl Esparza, Anne Hathaway, Audra McDonald and Stark Sands, opens at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Directed by Daniel Sullivan, it features an original score by Brooklyn-based folk-rock band Hem.

2011 Alice Playten, who lent her quirky persona and comic voice to a memorable string of Broadway and Off-Broadway musical performances from the 1960s onward, dies at age 63. Her Broadway credits included the original productions of Gypsy, Oliver!, Hello, Dolly! and Henry, Sweet Henry.


More of This Week's Birthdays: Luigi Pirandello 1867.  John Golden 1874.  Reginald Mason 1875.   H. H. Frazee 1880.  Charlotte Greenwood 1890.  Sidney Howard 1891.  Max Gordon 1892. Frank Loesser 1910.  Ruth Warrick 1915.  Peter Lind Hayes 1915.   A. E. Hotchner 1920.  I.A.L. Diamond 1920.  Ralph Burns 1922.  Mel Brooks 1928.  Joyce Ebert 1933.  Sidney Lumet 1924.  John Tillinger 1938.  Mary Beth Peil 1940.  Gilda Radner 1946.  Bruce Davison 1946.  Kathy Bates 1948.  Lee Wilkof 1951.  Kevin Adams 1962.  Michael Ball 1962.  Jessica Hecht 1965.  Mary Stuart Masterson 1966.  Danielle Brisebois 1969.  Hunter Foster 1969.  Emily Skinner 1970.  Chris O'Donnell 1970.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Show reviews for the week of June 25, 2012

Broward Stage Door Theatre presents Backwards In High Heels by Lynnette Barkley and Christopher McGovern.  Directed by Dan Kelley and featuring: Kelly Skidmore, Nicole Davey, Kate Scott, Ryan Lingle, Jake Delany, and Jonathon Van Dyke. Design Team: Lighting Design – Ardeau Landhuis;  Musical Direction – David Nagy; Costume Design – Jerry Sturdefant.

Christine Dolen reviewed the show for the The Miami Herald:
McGovern’s script, which isn’t always crystal clear, tells the story of the driven woman who was born Virginia Katherine McMath in 1911. Her parents didn’t stay together long, and her mother Lela tried making it in Hollywood as a screenwriter but soon found her life’s calling: micromanaging the life and career of the daughter who rechristened herself “Ginger.”

Director Dan Kelley and choreographer Yoav Levin smoothly convey Rogers’ story, punctuating it with one dazzling dance number after another. Musical director Dave Nagy, bass player Martha Spangler and percussionist Julie Jacobs supply the live music so critical to the give-and-take between singers and musicians. Costume designer Jerry Sturdefant, lighting designer Ardeau Landhuis and Stage Door’s scenic designers largely keep the show’s palette in black, white and grays, appropriate for a star whose movie legacy was captured in black and white.

Nicole Davey sketches miniature portraits of several stars – Merman, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn – and emerges as the show’s solid comedienne. Ryan Lingle is a persuasive suitor-turned-scoundrel as Rogers’ first husband, Jack Culpepper, but his Jimmy Stewart bears no resemblance to the affable star. Jake Delany gets the Astaire role, but he looks, sounds and moves nothing like the legendary dancer-choreographer, and Skidmore handily out-dances him. Jonathan Van Dyke, like the other guys, contributes in a variety of roles.




Empire Stage presents Love Scenes by David Pumo.  Directed by Donna Jean Fogel and features Moe Bertran.  Lighting Design - Nate Sykes.

Rod Stafford Hagwood reviewed the show for the Sun-Sentinel
Written by David Pumo, the one-man show doesn’t spark until the third scene. But from that moment on, it’s a laugh-a-minute gallop through all sorts of gay relationships, each one getting its own monologue. To be sure, poignant points are scored, but it’s the zingers that linger.

Don’t think for a moment that the late-coming “wow” factor is due to a meandering attack by actor Moe Bertran, who has performed the show across the country and even aboard Atlantis Events’ gay cruises. It is not. It’s just that those first scenes seem to have very little new or particularly interesting to offer. In the first, an inebriated man crashes his ex-lover’s wedding to a woman. In the next, a Broadway director (staging Grease 2, of all things) slyly confronts the dancer with whom his partner is having an affair.

He hardly misses a beat as he transitions from a street hustler lamenting an S&M-tinged adventure (“the way he tied a knot, he must have been a Boy Scout or something”) to a political activist (“We’re here. We’re queer. We design the clothes you wear”) relaying the story behind his first male kiss … at a Barbra Streisand concert, no less.

Finally! We are lifted out of the cabaret and into the theater. It is a triumphant scene that segues brilliantly to the next: a dry, arch and very funny piece that shows off Pumo’s wicked insight. In it, he plays an older “Park Slope” man dealing with his partner’s desire to have an open relationship.




Slow Burn Theatre presents Xanadu by Douglas Carter Bean.  Directed by Patrick Fitzwater with Musical Direction by Manny Schvartzman.  Featuring:  Lindsey Forgey, Rick Pena, Larry Buzzeo, Mary Gundlach, Renata Eastlick, Connor Walton, Lisa Kerstin Braun, Kristina Johnson, Jerel Brown.  Musical Direction by Manny Schvartzman.

Bill Hirschman reviewed the show for Florida Theatre On Stage.
Director Patrick Fitzwater warned the opening night audience that this is “thinkless theater at its finest.” Well, maybe not at its finest, but this dopey 90-minute spoof of the 1980 flick starring Olivia Newton-John and, for his sins, Gene Kelly, regularly elicits smiles, chuckles and some flat-out guffaws.

The star of the show is book writer Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed and As Bees In Honey Drown). He told critics while writing the show that he took the job on the producer’s condition that he keep the songs and on his condition that he could scrap 95 percent of the film.

Fitzwater and Beane’s style of choice is at least two levels above over-the-top. The book is intentionally clichéd and clunky to make fun of the shortcomings of clichéd and clunky books, such as ham-handedly troweling on implausible exposition. The heroine in the film was played by Newton-John whose Greek Muse inexplicably had an Australian accent. Beane acknowledges that by positing that Clio obeys Zeus’ command that she work incognito on Earth, so she “disguises” herself by taking the name Kira, wearing legwarmers and adopting a Crocodile Dundee accent.

The cast is headed by Slow Burn’s regular leading lady, Lindsey Forgey, wearing a wig of flowing blond curls. Forgey is a lovely woman with a strong voice, but she is as visually as far from the waifish Newton-John or Broadway’s Kerry Butler as you can get. Being a comedienne, she revels in that. In five Slow Burn roles, she has perfected an off-center heroine whose slightly loopy, slightly at sea persona skewers the unrealistic dewy-eyed naifs who Hollywood usually casts in these roles. Watching her Muse galumph across the stage without one skate, gamely pretending that she can ignore the impediment, is a solid hoot.

The on-stage house band led by musical director Manny Schvartzman lovingly recreates the era with such Jeff Lynne and John Farrar “classics” as “I’m Alive,” “Magic” and the Newton-John standard “Have You Never Been Mellow,” which has never sounded campier. Still, Schvartzman has let the singers get awful sloppy about hitting some notes and their enunciation.

The overall evening is not as consistently hilarious as Slow Burn thinks it is, but if you surrender to humor much broader than the Intracoastal, you’re likely to find yourself having just as much fun.




Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre presents DeathTrap by Ira Levin.  Directed by Clayton Phillips and featuring:  Clay Cartland, Kevin Reilley and Elizabeth Sackett.

Bill Hirschman reviewed the show for Florida Theatre On Stage.
From its opening lines – a playwright intoning “Deathtrap, a thriller in two acts, one set, five characters” referring to a script in his hands not Levin’s play – the playwright mixed humor and suspense so skillfully that he simultaneously teased and honored the genre that reached its apex with Sleuth.

Miami Stage Door’s first season closer is a serviceable if not outstanding edition that understands Levin’s black comedy, appreciates his Swiss watchmaker’s plotting and benefits from a solid performance by Kevin Reilley as a thriller playwright contemplating murder as the means of a comeback.

Deathtrap opens with washed-up Sidney Bruhl bemoaning to his wife Myra that he has received a can’t-miss script Deathtrap from Clifford Anderson, a student seeking his advice. With a mind accustomed to inventing the logistics of dark deeds, Bruhl sees how he can invite Anderson to his writing den for a conference, murder the unknown author and claim the play as his own. Myra is horrified as she watches her husband seduced by the gelling plan. Bruhl indeed invites Anderson for a visit to his lair whose walls are lined with a score of medieval and modern instruments of death. The rollercoaster crests over its first peak and we’re off.

This production could use a little more topspin under the direction of Clayton Phillips, the production manager for the Maltz Jupiter Theatre and an experienced director of musicals judging by his bio. He leads his cast in an adequate rendition, but this iteration doesn’t maximize the suspense or comedy that this play is capable of delivering.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Current Productions for the week of June 25, 2012

The Edge of our Bodies by Adam Rapp
At Mosaic Theatre Until July 1
The Edge of Our Bodies was a tremendous hit at this year's Humana Festival and features Bernadette, sixteen, on the train from her New England private school to New York City to give her boyfriend some big news. Achingly articulate about all she can't know or control, this play captures a young woman at the threshold of vulnerability and experience.


DeathTrap by Ira Levin
Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre Until July 1
The trap is set… for a wickedly funny who’ll-do-it. Broadway’s longest-running mystery is a classic pulse-pounding thriller with devilishly wicked characters and multiple twists. The plot thickens as a once famed playwright, now living on his laurels, is sent a more-than-promising manuscript from an aspiring playwright. His dilemma: Can he get the young author to collaborate with him?  If not – is murder an option?  Of course it is.


Love Scenes by David Pumo
At Emire stage Until July 1
Six, individual scenes.  Each with it's own flavor and perspective.  Each depicting a different type of relationship in gay america.  Each unique chacrter as different as six random people you would meet on the street.  All played by one actor.
Warning: Nudity and adult themes.


Xanadu by Douglas Carter Beane, Jeff Lynne and John Farrar
At Slow Burn Theatre Co. Until July 1
XANADU follows the journey of a magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from the heavens of Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest artistic creation of all time – the first ROLLER DISCO This tale of endless fun will keep you in stitches, while the legendary chart-topping tunes will lift you out of your seat. You’ll want to keep the music in your head, and XANADU in your heart, forever.


Cabaret Verboten
At The Arts Garage Until July 29
In the face of the Nazi machine’s insidious advance, Germany’s Weimar era art-scene was a hotbed of music, theatre, and art that used satire and irony to expose the affected bourgeois morality of the time. While “decadent” and “degenerate” were terms Hitler used to describe whatever he found objectionable, the cabaret of the day reflected the social degeneracy, dripping in decadence and menace, as a response to what their world had become.


Friday, June 22, 2012

The Past Week In Theatre History (June 18 – June 22)

PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: JUNE 18 – 22
By David Gewirtzman, Doug Nevins,
Ernio Hernandez and Robert Viagas
18 Jun 2012
   

1903    Caricaturist Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003) is born today. His distinctive looping line drawings will capture the essence of Broadway shows from the 1920s through the early 2000s. The Martin Beck Theatre will be renamed the Al Hirschfeld in 2003, just months after his death at age 99.

1905    Birthday of playwright Lillian Hellman (1905-1984), who will go on to write The Children's Hour, The Little Foxes, Another Part of the Forest, Watch on the Rhine and the book to Candide.

1906    See-see, described by its authors as a "Comic Chinese opera," opens at the Prince of Wales's Theatre in London. The musical boasts a book by Charles Brookfield and a score by Sidney Jones and Adrian Ross. Denise Osme performs the title role. See-see will run 152 performances.

1910    In a strike against racial prejudice, Florenz Ziegfeld opens the Ziegfeld Follies of 1910, with actor Bert Williams as co-star, marking the first time white and black entertainers have appeared on stage together in a major Broadway production.

1920    Opening night of the starry Ziegfeld Follies of 1920 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, featuring performances by Fanny Brice, W.C. Fields and Moran & Mack; and music by Irving Berlin, Harry Tierney and Victor Herbert. It will run 123 performances.

1921    Birthday of Joseph Papp (1921-1991), founder and longtime executive director of the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre. Aside from the annual free productions of Shakespeare in New York's Central Park, NYSF will present annual subscription seasons of works by two generations of theatre artists, with a special emphasis on work by and about minorities. Productions under his auspices included A Chorus Line, Hair, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Pirates of Penzance and That Championship Season.

1921    Future stage and screen star Judy Holliday is born today. By the time of her untimely death in 1966 Holliday will have won the 1951 Academy Award for best actress for her performance in "Born Yesterday," a role she has already done on Broadway. She will also win a Tony Award as best leading actress for her performance in the Jule Styne-Betty Comden-Adolph Green musical, Bells Are Ringing.

1929    The musical revue Hot Chocolates opens a 219-performance run today at the Hudson Theatre, featuring some of the great stars of Harlem nightclubs, including the Broadway debut of Louis Armstrong, and a score by Fats Waller, Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf.

1937    Laurence Housman's Broadway smash Victoria Regina opens at London's Lyric Theatre. The historical drama, which proved to be a personal triumph for star Helen Hayes on Broadway, now stars Pamela Stanely as the 19th-century British Queen. The show will run 42 weeks.

1951    Audience members are taken back to Indianapolis circa 1907 as Seventeen opens at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre. Based on the novel by Booth Tarkington, the new musical features a book by Sally Benson. Singing the Walter Kent-Kim Gannon score are leads Ann Crowley and Kenneth Nelson. The show will run 23 weeks.

1956    The Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario kicks off its season with productions of Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia. Also included are productions of three Moliere comedies.

1962    A New York theatregoing tradition is born as the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park first opens, with a production of The Merchant of Venice starring George C. Scott. The construction of the famed home of free Shakespeare is made possible by a $400,000 donation from George Delacorte of Dell Publishing.

1963    The 1876-vintage Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut, reopens after an extensive renovation as a headquarters for musical revivals and new musicals. The first show in the new series will be Oh Lady, Lady. Among Goodspeed Musicals productions to land on Broadway will be Man of La Mancha, Shenandoah and Annie.

1965    Actor Sydney Chaplin leaves the Broadway production of Funny Girl after settling with the producers. Despite rumors that Chaplin has left the show because of some friction between himself and co-star Barbra Streisand, the official reason given for his early departure is that Chaplin has had disagreements with the show's producer, Ray Stark.

1965    A musical classic returns to the New York stage as the Music Theatre of Lincoln Center revives Kismet at the New York State Theatre. Alfred Drake returns to the role he originated in the Broadway production of the musical for the length of this six-week run.

1966    Stage and film actor Ed Wynn dies at age 80. After starting out with a career in Vaudville on the Orpheum-Keith Albee vaudeville circuit, Wynn became a staple on Broadway (Simple Simon, The Laugh Parade) and in Hollywood ("Mary Poppins," among many other Disney films). Wynn also received much acclaim for his performance in the film version of "The Diary of Anne Frank."

1976    Godspell, the third longest-running show in Off-Broadway history ends its run at 2,124 performances to transfer to Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre, where it will open tonight. The Stephen Schwartz musical directed and conceived by John-Michael Tebelak is based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. It will close after switching to the Plymouth Theatre and end at Ambassador Theatre Sep. 4, 1977.

1978    The gay-themed revue, Crimes Against Nature, begins a 10-week engagement at the Actors Playhouse in New York. Created by the Gay Men's Theatre Collective of San Francisco, the show deals with both current events and more personal homosexual concerns.

1978    Carol Hall's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, starring Carlin Glynn, opens on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre. The musical directed by Peter Masterson and Tommy Tune will garner seven Tony nominations and win two; for Glynn and co-star Henderson Forsythe.

1984    David Rabe's play Hurlyburly opens Off-Broadway at the Promenade Theatre. The original cast from Chicago's Goodman stays intact, including William Hurt, Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, Jerry Stiller, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver, and Judith Ivey. The play will run 45 performances, then transfer to Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

1987    Steel Magnolias, Robert Harling's smalltown drama transfers from Off-Broadway's WPA Theatre to Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre where it will play 817 performances. The play features Kate Wilkinson under the direction of Pamela Berlin.

1987    Fred Astaire, one half of Hollywood's Astaire-Ginger Rogers dancing duo, dies today. As a Broadway dancer, Astaire appeared on Broadway in such musicals as The Band Wagon, opposite his sister, Adele, and Gay Divorce. Among the many Hollywood musicals in which he danced opposite Rogers was 1935's "Top Hat."

1989    A musical version of Death of a Salesman? That's what the Jewish boy in The Loman Family Picnic dreams of writing while his family stresses about his bar mitzvah. The play by Donald Margulies opens at the Manhattan Theatre Club's City Center Stage 2.

1992    It is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber now, as the famed musical theatre composer is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Sir Andrew's many musical credits include Broadway's longest-running musical, The Phantom of the Opera, and the international phenomenon, Cats. He'll later be elevated to the peerage as Lord Lloyd Webber.

1997    Though Cats, Broadway's longest-running musical opened to mixed reviews October 7, 1982 and its slogan, "Now and Forever," seemed a bit presumptuous, the show has officially become the longest-running musical in Broadway history. Its record-breaking 6,138th performance plays tonight.

1998    Seven playwrights, commissioned by the New York-based Acting Company, see their Love's Fire open at Off-Broadway's Joseph Papp Public Theatre. John Guare, Marsha Norman, Eric Bogosian, William Finn, Tony Kushner, Ntozake Shange and Wendy Wasserstein were all asked to contribute one-act plays inspired by Shakespeare's sonnets. The result, directed by Mark Lamos, plays a limited run through July 5.

1998    A New Brain, the latest work from Falsettos composer William Finn, opens at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre in New York's Lincoln Center. The musical, about a composer who faces the possibility of death from a brain tumor, stars Malcolm Gets, Mary Testa, Kristin Chenoweth, Chip Zien and Penny Fuller.

2000    Solo performer Sarah Jones brings her Surface Transit to New York City's downtown mecca Performance Space 122 starting today. The show headlines the First NYC Hip-Hop Theatre Festival produced by and also starring Danny Hoch (Jails, Hospitals, & Hip-Hop). In the piece, Jones embodies eight widely varied characters that range from a raving bag lady to a widowed Russian mother to a narrow-minded Jewish grandma to a recovering hip-hop rhyming addict turned-slam poet. She will later use this experience as a springboard to her 2006 Tony-winning play Bridge & Tunnel.

2000    Composer-lyricist-librettist Kirsten Childs' musical about Viceca "Bubbly" Stanton, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin gets its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons. Wilfredo Medina directs and A.C. Ciulla choreographs the musical memoir starring LaChanze.

2000    Josh Brolin and Elias Koteas replace Tony-nominated stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly in Sam Shepard's True West on Broadway. The drama, in which two brothers change personalities, made for an interesting twist as the two actors would switch lead roles every few performances. The replacement players will follow in the same fashion until the Matthew Warchus directed show closes July 29.

2002    A.R. Rahman and Don Black's Bombay Dreams, a musical about a love story set in India, opens at London's Apollo Victoria. The producer is Andrew Lloyd Webber. It will open on Broadway in 2004.

2003    George Axelrod, the playwright, director and screenwriter who penned the stage comedy, The Seven Year Itch, about a Manhattan man who lusts after his comely neighbor while his family is away for the summer, died today at age 81. Axelrod also penned the Broadway plays Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?? (1955) and Goodbye, Charlie (1959), which he also directed; and the films "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

2003    Bounce, the first musical collaboration between composer Stephen Sondheim and director Hal Prince in more than two decades, opens a tryout in Chicago. It will move on to Washington DC and play out a limited run without moving to New York. In 2008, John Doyle will direct a revised version of the musical at Off-Broadway's Public Theater under the title Road Show.

2004    Tony-winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie closes after a run of 32 previews and 904 regular performances at the Marquis Theatre.

2006    The north half of Times Square becomes a construction zone as the building at the corner of 46th Street and Seventh Avenue, which for decades housed a Howard Johnson’s restaurant and the Off-Broadway Duffy Theatre, is torn down and the 1974-vintage TKTS discount ticket booth in Father Duffy Square is dismantled. TKTS moves to temporary space in the ground floor of the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The landmark statue of George M. Cohan is encased in plywood for the duration.

2010    The City Center Encores! Summer Stars production of the Charlie Smalls-William F. Brown musical The Wiz, which boasts R&B artist Ashanti as Dorothy, officially opens at the famed New York venue. Directed by Thomas Kail, the cast also includes Orlando Jones at The Wiz, LaChanze as Glinda and Tichina Arnold as Evillene.



This Week’s Birthdays    Philip Barry 1896.  Dorothy Stickney 1896.  Moe Howard 1897.  Jack Whiting 1901.  David Burns 1902.  Mack Gordon 1904.  Katherine Dunham 1909.  Michael Todd 1909.  Keye Luke 1904.  Mildred Natwick 1905.  Billy Wilder 1906.  E. G. Marshall 1910.  Mary McCarthy 1912.  Martin Gabel 1912.  Sammy Cahn 1913.  Louis Jourdan 1919.  Gower Champion 1919.  Jane Russell 1921.  Maureen Stapleton 1925.  Michael Blakemore 1928.  Ralph Waite 1928.  Nancy Marchand 1928.  Gena Rowlands 1930.  John Cunningham 1932.  George Hearn 1934.  Mariette Hartley 1940.  Elizabeth Franz 1941.  Maria Tucci 1941.  Michael Gross 1947.  Phylicia Rashad 1948.  Meryl Streep 1949.  Carol Kane 1952.  Cyndi Lauper 1953.  Kathleen Turner 1954.  David Marshall Grant 1955. Kerry Butler 1971.



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