Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: May 11

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: May 11
 
Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress.
Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress.

1903 In The Runaways, with a book by Addison Burkhardt and a score by Raymond Hubbell, the hero is transported to a tropical island and will be made a king. The catch? He must marry the queen. The show runs nearly 21 weeks at Broadway's Casino Theater.

1920 American author, critic, and playwright William Dean Howells dies in New York City. In his criticism, he championed the work of James A. Herne and Clyde Fitch. His plays include Yorick's Love, The Garroters, and The Mouse Trap (not to be confused with Agatha Christie's play of the same name). He was 83 years old.

1938 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart contribute music and lyrics for I Married an Angel at the Shubert Theater on Broadway. George Balanchine choreographs the story of a banker who looks for Ms. Right from above. Dennis King and Vera Zorina are featured for the 42-week run.

1959 Carol Burnett begins the path to her Broadway debut as Once Upon a Mattress premieres Off-Broadway at the Phoenix Theatre. George Abbott directs, and Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer provide the songs. Following a six month run at the Phoenix, the production transfers to Broadway's Alvin Theatre, earning Tony nominations for Burnett's performance and for Best Musical.

1994 A revival of the musical Grease opens on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Featured in director-choreographer Jeff Calhoun's cast are Megan Mullally, Rosie O'Donnell, and Billy Porter.

1999 Singer Gladys Knight joins the cast of the Leiber and Stoller revue, Smokey Joe's Cafe. She ends her stint in the stageshow May 22, but returns for another go at it August 17-29.

2002 The original London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's and T.S. Eliot's Cats closes after a record run of 21 years, on the anniversary of its opening night.

2005 West End opening night for smash musical Billy Elliot. With a score by Elton John, the production wins four Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical. It stays at the Victoria Palace Theatre for almost 11 years, playing a total of 4,600 performances.

2010 Doris Eaton Travis, the former Ziegfeld Follies dancer who inspired 21st century audiences with her pluck, good will—and fancy footwork—at 12 of 13 annual Easter Bonnet Competition performances for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, dies at age 106.

2012 Paul Gross heads the cast of the world premiere of John Guare's Are You There, McPhee? at the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey. Sam Buntrock directs the play about a playwright who is sucked into the tangle of the lives of a pair of abandoned children.

2016 Bobby Steggert stars as legendary French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in the new musical My Paris, opening at the Long Whartf Theatre in New Haven, CT. Directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, it has music and lyrics by Charles Aznavour, book by Alfred Uhry, and English lyrics and musical adaptation by Jason Robert Brown.

Today's Birthdays: Irving Berlin 1888. Martha Graham 1894. Phil Silvers 1911. Mort Sahl 1927. Boyd Gaines 1953. George Dvorsky 1959. Natasha Richardson 1963. Charlotte d'Amboise 1964.

Watch Cheyenne Jackson sing Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do":

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