Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 9

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 9
The cast of Be More Chill Maria Baranova

1967 Playwright Joe Orton is found dead in his London flat. Also found dead is his companion, writer and actor Kenneth Halliwell. It appears that Halliwell murdered the Loot playwright and then killed himself.

1978 A New York newspaper strike leads producers to use TV and other media to advertise their shows.

2002 Final farewell to musical director, orchestrator, arranger, and composer Peter Matz, who dies at age 73; and actor Don Chastain (Floyd Collins) who dies at 66.

2003 Tap-dancing actor-singer Gregory Hines, recognized as part of a rich tradition of African-American tap masters, dies of cancer at age 57. He performed with his brother Maurice for several years (including in the musical, Eubie!) before they took separate paths. Gregory Hines won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for Jelly's Last Jam, for which he was also nominated for Best Choreography. Hines was nominated for Tonys for Best Actor in a Musical in 1980 and 1981, respectively, for Comin' Uptown and Sophisticated Ladies. He was also nominated in 1979 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Eubie! His films included The Cotton Club, Tap, White Nights, and Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part 1.

2003 Julie Andrews makes her directing debut at Long Island's Bay Street Theatre with a revival of The Boy Friend, the musical with which she made her Broadway debut in 1954. Meredith Patterson plays Andrews' role (Polly).

2012 A revival of Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Tony Award-winning musical that intertwines classic fairytales, opens at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Shakespeare in the Park production stars Donna Murphy as the Witch, Denis O'Hare as the Baker, Amy Adams and the Baker's Wife, and Jessie Mueller as Cinderella.

2014 Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez's musical Up Here opens its world premiere engagement at the La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California. Betsy Wolfe and Matt Bittner topline the musical, which takes place inside the head of a computer repairman (Bittner) with a vivid imagination. Alex Timbers directs.

2018 The New York premiere of Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz's musical Be More Chill opens Off-Broadway at the Pershing Square Signature Center. Will Roland stars in the show about an awkward high schooler who succumbs to the influence of the Squip, a pill-shaped supercomputer purported to make its user more chill. The production sells out its limited engagement, and transfers to Broadway the following year.

Today's Birthdays: Paul Kelly 1899. P.L. Travers 1899. Anne Brown 1912. Robert Shaw 1927. Dick Anthony Williams 1934. Melanie Griffith 1957. Anna Kendrick 1985.

Watch highlights from the 2012 Shakespeare in the Park production of Into the Woods:

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