PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: MAY 28 - June 1
By Ernio Hernandez, David Gewirtzman,
Robert Viagas, and Anne Bradley.
1868 Birthday of producer/director/manager Charles Dillingham (1868-1934), whose productions included As Good as New, The Last of Mrs. Cheyney, Sunny, Bulldog Drummond, The Red Mill and dozens more.
1914 The Ziegfeld Follies of 1914 stars Ed Wynn. Leon Errol dances and co-directs with Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. There will be 112 performances at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York.
1921 It's Gold that obsesses a sea captain in this four-act Eugene O'Neill tragedy. Willard Mack stars in what will be six performances at the Frazee Theatre in New York.
1940 Victor Moore, William Gaxton and Vera Zorina star in the Irving Berlin musical Louisiana Purchase, which runs 444 performances at the Imperial Theatre.
1946 Orson Welles circumnavigated the stage in Around the World, a musical he adapted from the Jules Verne novel, “Around the World in Eighty Days,” Cole Porter provided the music and lyrics for the
production, mounted at the Adelphi Theatre.
1951 Performer Fanny Brice dies today in Hollywood at age 60. She started in showbiz by winning a series of amateur nights at vaudeville theatres in Brooklyn, then graduated to Burlesque as a Yiddish dialect comedienne. She was the first female comic hired by Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. for his legendary Follies series. She made her debut in 1910 and became one of the Follies's signature acts. She made her first film in 1928, but did not pursue a movie career. She created the character Baby Snooks on stage, but it later became the centerpiece of her long-runnig radio show. Her life was immortalized in the Broadway musical, Funny Girl, starring Barbra Streisand.
1953 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II open Me and Juliet, their show about a musical in tryouts out of town. Starring Isabel Bigley, it runs 358 performances at the Majestic Theatre.
1958 Charles Laughton returns to the London stage after a 22 year absence in The Party. He also directs this Jane Arden play about an alcoholic. Albert Finney, Joyce Redman, and Ann Lynn are also in the cast.
1959 Comedian-singer Max Bygraves spends 328 performances Swinging Down the Lane at London's Palladium Theatre.
1962 Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s musical Brigadoon was revived by the New York City Center Light Opera Company. The production, under the direction of Jean Dalrymple, played at City Center, with actor Peter Palmer in the role of Tommy Albright.
1962 Birthday of actress Tonya Pinkins (Jelly's Last Jam; Caroline, or Change).
1964 He's The Right Honorable Gentleman but he has his moral lapses. Anthony Quayle stars in Michael Dyne's play at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. It will have a 17-month run.
1971 Birthday of actress Idina Menzel (Rent, Wicked).
1974 Magician Doug Henning combines music with illusions in The Magic Show, which becomes one of the longest-running shows of the 1970s -- 1920 performances at the Cort Theatre.
1978 Waiting for Godot is produced at the Leperq Space of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Walter D. Asmus directs Samuel Beckett’s own English version of his play. Austin Pendleton assumes the role of Estragon for this BAM Theater Company production.
1978 Bernard Slade's Tribute, about a Hollywood publicity man who is dying of cancer and trying to make amends with the son he never got to know, opens at the Brooks Atkinson. Jack Lemmon stars as the father in the production that will play 212 performances.
1979 Liv Ullmann won't be forgotten as she headlines at the Majestic Theatre in I Remember Mama. The Richard Rodgers-Martin Charnin musical with book by Thomas Meehan is directed by Cy Feuer. It will play 40 previews and 108 performances before closing Sep. 2.
1984 John Malkovich and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago bring Lanford Wilson's Balm in Gilead to New York City at the Circle Repertory. Terry Kinney, Tanya Berezin, Gary Sinise and Glenne Headly star in the play set in a Broadway coffee shop under the direction of Malkovich.
1987 Off-Broadway's Public Theater was transformed into Studio B of Cleveland radio station WTLK as Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio airs live to its New York viewing audience. Frederick Zollo directs a cast that features Bogosian himself as a talk show host who undergoes an identity crisis during a broadcast.
1996 Tartuffe: Born Again, an updated version of Moliere’s Tartuffe by Freyda Thomas, opened at Circle in the Square’s Uptown Theatre. It starred Tony-winning actor John Glover, of Love! Valour! Compassion! fame, and an actress named Jane Krakowski, who later went on to appear in the TV sitcom “Ally McBeal.”
1998 Natalie Portman, making her stage debut as the star of the Broadway revival of The Diary of Anne Frank, leaves the production at the Music Box Theatre to return to her movie career and be immortalized as Princess Leia's mother in the "Star Wars" prequel films. Nathalie Paulding replaces her as Anne.
1998 Kevin Knight, who directed the London premiere of Birdy, brings the American premiere to Philadelphia Theatre Company. Naomi Wallace's adaptation of William Wharton's novel is set in Philadelphia, just after World War II and examines the friendship between the sensitive, bird-obsessed Birdy and body building-obsessed Al and their struggle with identity.
1998 Following his 1996 Tony Award for Best Choreography for his rap, tap and soul revue, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, Savion Glover takes his talents Downtown. At the Off-Broadway Variety Arts Theatre, Savion Glover/Downtown officially opens. This tap jam session also stars members of his recently formed company, Not Your Ordinary Tappers (NYOT).
1998 A.R. Gurney's new play, Labor Day, opens at Off-Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club. John, the semi-autobiographical protagonist in Gurney's earlier The Cocktail Hour, reappears in the new work. The production is directed by Jack O'Brien.
1999 The second Broadway version of The Scarlet Pimpernel will close tonight at the Minskoff Theatre. A few months later (Sep. 10), the Frank Wildhorn musical will return to New York in a third and scaled-back incarnation at the Neil Simon Theatre.
2002 Performances begin in London for Bombay Dreams, the musical set in the world of Indian cinema. The composer is A.R. Rahman and the producer is Andrew Lloyd Webber.
2003 The Light in the Piazza, a new musical by Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel, makes its world premiere at Seattle's Intiman Theatre. It will open on Broadway in spring 2005 and win Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Actress in a Musical.
2011 David Tennant and Catherine Tate, known to "Doctor Who" fans as the Doctor and Donna Noble, open in a production of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre. Josie Rourke directs the limited summer run.
Friday, June 1, 2012
PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: MAY 28 - June 1