Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 25

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 25
A scene from the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line.
A scene from the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1853 Birthday of Broadway impresario David Belasco, namesake of the Belasco Theatre, who writes and/or produces dozens of plays including The Return of Peter Grimm and Laugh, Clown, Laugh!, and two that inspire great operas, Madame Butterfly and Girl of the Golden West. His ghost is believed to haunt the Broadway theatre that bears his name.

1975 After a smash run at The Public Theater in New York City, the Marvin Hamlisch-Edward Kleban musical A Chorus Line makes the move uptown to Broadway's Shubert Theatre. The Michael Bennett-helmed show, including such songs as "What I Did for Love" and "One," features Donna McKechnie, Kelly Bishop, and Robert LuPone. A Chorus Line truly proves to be, as its lyrics say, "one singular sensation," racking up 6,137 performances to become Broadway's longest running show up to that time. (In June 1997, Cats breaks that record.) A 1985 film version of A Chorus Line, directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, features Michael Douglas and Terrence Mann in its cast.

1992 Broadway star Alfred Drake dies at age 78. Born Alfred Cappuro, Drake went on to star in the original productions of such Broadway musical classics as Oklahoma!, Kiss Me, Kate, and Kismet. For a time in 1953, Drake replaced Yul Brynner as the King of Siam in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's The King And I, a role he had turned down when the show was first being produced.

1996 Tony Award-winning musical star Patti LuPone returns to the Broadway stage in Terrence McNally's Master Class. Taking over the reins from the play's original Tony Award-winning star, Zoe Caldwell, LuPone is said to speed up the evening's proceedings significantly, due to her fast-paced interpretation. When LuPone finishes her run as opera diva Maria Callas in the Tony-winning play, stage and television star Dixie Carter becomes the third—and final—actor to play Callas in the production. Faye Dunaway plays the part on tour.

2001 Director-choreographer Graciela Daniele's revival of Annie Get Your Gun celebrates its 1,000th performance at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway. Leads on that date are Crystal Bernard and Tom Wopat.

2002 Judd Hirsch returns to Broadway in the role that earned him the 1986 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play: Nat in Herb Gardner's I'm Not Rappaport. The production not only brings back much of the original creative team (director Daniel Sullivan, scenic designer Tony Walton, and lighting designer Pat Collins), but it also opens at the same theatre—the Booth. Starring opposite Hirsch in the revival is Ben Vereen, taking on the role of Midge originally played by Cleavon Little.

2008 Bruce Adler, the scion of Yiddish theatre family who went on to have much success on the Broadway stage, winning two Tony Award nominations, dies at age 63. He had been battling liver cancer for several years.

2013 Jeff Blumenkrantz and Brett Ryback star as suspects and detective, respectively, in the New York premiere of Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair's two-person whodunit musical Murder for Two, opening at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre as part of the Second Stage Theatre Uptown Series. The production is a hit, and later transfers to New World Stages for an extended run.

2016 James M. Nederlander Sr., the longtime patriarch of the Nederlander theatre-owning dynasty, which includes nine Broadway theatres, dies at age 94. Mr. Nederlander transformed what was a regional theatre business based in Detroit into a New York powerhouse when, in the 1960s, he set his sights on New York City and began buying Broadway theatres. The National High School Musical Theatre Awards are nicknamed the "Jimmy Awards" after him, to honor his patronage of the prizes for outstanding young musical theatre performers from across the U.S.

More of Today's Birthdays: Nat C. Goodwin 1859. Jack Gilford 1908. Estelle Getty 1923. Barbara Harris 1935.

Watch the Off-Broadway cast of Hamilton sing "I Hope I Get It" and "What I Did for Love" to members of the original cast of A Chorus Line:

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