Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 17

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 17
Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen, Susan Blackwell and Hunter Bell in [title of show].
Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen, Susan Blackwell and Hunter Bell in [title of show]. Carol Rosegg

1953 Actor Maude Adams dies at age 80. Born in 1873, Adams, at the age of 32, played the title role in James M. Barrie's Peter Pan when it had its American premiere at the Empire Theatre in 1905. (Nina Boucicault played the role in London in 1904). Barrie wrote the part with Adams in mind.

1971 Nicol Williamson marries actor Jill Townsend today. Williamson, a stage actor well-known to Broadway, is best known for essaying many Shakespearian characters, especially Hamlet, which he has done numerous times at different venues across the globe. Newspapers reported that he became a little too physically animated in Paul Rudnick's comedy, I Hate Hamlet, causing costar Evan Handler to file a complaint and leave the show.

1985 Benn W. Levy's Springtime for Henry is revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company at the Christian C. Yegen Theatre Off-Broadway. Peter Evans, Tovah Feldshuh, George N. Martin, and Jodi Thelen comprise the cast of the production helmed by Tony Tanner. (The play's title is the inspiration for the supposed über-flop Springtime for Hitler in Mel Brooks' 1968 film and 2001 Broadway musical The Producers.)

2000 Christmas in July! Book writer Paul Blake adapts the 1954 movie musical, White Christmas, for the stage. Charles Repole directs the world premiere of the show at The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri. The show has a cast that features Howard Keel, Karen Mason, Lee Roy Reams, and Lara Teeter.

2001 Broadway finds itself full of Bologna today, as husband/wife acting team Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor bring their two-person stage memoir to the Cort Theatre. It is titled If You Ever Leave Me...I'm Going with You!

2008 [title of show]—the musical that would rather be nine people's favorite thing than 100 people's ninth favorite thing—opens at the Lyceum Theatre. Originally produced at the Vineyard Theatre in 2006, the entire original cast—including co-creators Jeff Bowen (score) and Hunter Bell (book) as well as co-stars Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff—make the leap to the Broadway stage with the show.

2008 Larry Haines, a stage and television actor who gave a Tony Award-nominated performance as the humane Dr. Dreyfuss in Promises, Promises, a 1968 musical version of the Billy Wilder film The Apartment, dies in Delray Beach, FL. He was 89.

2014 Elaine Stritch, the sandpaper-voiced, veteran actor who became as famous for her candid, brash personality as for her forays in the stage and cabaret worlds, dies at age 89. Ms. Stritch originated the role of Grace Hoylard in William Inge's Bus Stop, and famously sang "Why Do the Wrong People Travel?" in Noel Coward's Sail Away and "The Ladies Who Lunch" in Stephen Sondheim's Company. She earned Tony nominations for all three of those performances, as well as for playing Claire in a revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. Ms. Stritch recounted her memories of those productions and more in her confessional one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which won a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event.

Today's Birthdays: James Cagney 1899. Grace Durkin 1914. Phyllis Diller 1917. Mimi Hines 1933. Donald Sutherland 1935. Diahann Carroll 1935. Ethyl Eichelberger 1945. Lucie Arnaz 1951. David Hasselhoff 1952.

Watch highlights from Elaine Stritch's final Broadway show, the 2009 revival of A Little Night Music:

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