Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 24

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 24
 
Kristin Chenoweth in Wicked
Kristin Chenoweth in Wicked Joan Marcus

1920 Producer Alexander H. Cohen, known for bringing quality plays to Broadway for six decades, is born. He produces 101 Broadway shows, including the 1964 Hamlet starring Richard Burton, Harold Pinter's drama The Homecoming, Peter Brook's Tony Award-winning La Tragedie de Carmen, James Joyce's Ulysses in Nighttown starring Zero Mostel, Dario Fo's Accidental Death of An Anarchist, Long Day's Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness!, both starring Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst, and Noël Coward's Waiting in the Wings starring Lauren Bacall and Rosemary Harris. He lives to age 79.

1985 Film buffs will be interested to know that up until this day in 1985, Tony-winner Mandy Patinkin was to star opposite Meryl Streep in the Mike Nichols film Heartburn. After one day of shooting, however, Patinkin is replaced on the project by Academy Award-winner Jack Nicholson.

1996 Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's musical The Fantasticks, which opened Off-Broadway May 3, 1960, plays its 15,000th performance. The story about two young neighbors whose stars are crossed purposely by their fathers' fake feuding runs at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in New York City's Greenwich Village. It closes in January 2002.

1997 Following a sold-out limited run at Greenwich House, Douglas Carter Beane's comedy, As Bees in Honey Drown, begins a commercial Off-Broadway run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Although Bo Foxworth has taken over the lead role from Josh Hamilton, who must leave to honor a film commitment, most of the cast, including J. Smith-Cameron, T. Scott Cunningham, Sandra Daley, and Mark Nelson, remains intact.

2001 Mike Nichols' production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull begins performances at Central Park's Delacorte Theatre. Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline head the cast as Arkadina and Trigorin. Also in the cast are Marcia Gay Harden as Masha, Natalie Portman as Nina, Christopher Walken as Sorin, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Konstantin, John Goodman as Shamrayev, Debra Monk as Polina, Stephen Spinella as Medvedyev, and Larry Pine as Dorn.

2003 Roundabout Theatre Company and Deaf West Theatre present an American Sign Language adaptation of Roger Miller and William Hauptman's Big River, opening on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre. Featuring a cast of deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing actors, most roles are double cast with one actor speaking and singing, and one signing.

2011 Jane White, a stage veteran who created the role of Queen Aggravain in Once Upon a Mattress, dies at age 88. Ms. White, a New York City native who grew up in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem and attended Smith College and the New School, also appeared on Broadway in Strange Fruit, Take a Giant Step, and the 2001 revival of Follies.

2016 The new Broadway musical Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed ends its run after 38 previews and 100 regular performances. It opened April 28 at the Music Box Theatre after beginning previews March 15 and was nominated for ten Tony Awards.

2016 Marni Nixon, a singer and actor who gained a special kind of fame by dubbing the singing voices of other actors in famous movie musicals, dies at age 86. Among the film musicals featuring Nixon's singing are The King and I (for Deborah Kerr's Anna), West Side Story (for Natalie Wood's Maria), and My Fair Lady (for Audrey Hepburn's Eliza). Nixon's Broadway appearances included The Girl in Pink Tights, James Joyce's The Dead, and revivals of Follies and Nine.

More of Today's Birthdays: William Gillette 1853. Lord Dunsany 1878. Chris Sarandon 1942. Kristin Chenoweth 1968. Rose Byrne 1979. Elisabeth Moss 1982.

Watch highlights from the 2015 Broadway revival of On the Twentieth Century, starring Kristin Chenoweth:

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