1878 Legendary dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson is born. His Broadway appearances include Memphis Bound!, The Hot Mikado, and Blackbirds of 1928.
1939 Birthday of Sir Ian McKellen, who wins a Tony in 1981 for playing Salieri in Amadeus. Among his other Broadway appearances are Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare, and revivals of Waiting for Godot, No Man’s Land, and Dance of Death. His many film credits include X-Men, Gods and Monsters, and The Lord of the Rings (as Gandalf).
1943 Shadow and Substance by Paul Vincent Carroll plays at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London. Among the cast are Joyce Redman, Denis Carey, Megs Jenkins, and Malcolm Keen. Hugh Hunt stages.
1943 Happy birthday to Leslie Uggams, 1968 Tony Award winner for her Broadway debut in the musical Hallelujah, Baby! Her Broadway performances also include the musicals Her First Roman, Anything Goes, and Thoroughly Modern Millie, and plays King Hedley II and On Golden Pond.
1964 Opening night of The Subject Was Roses, starring Jack Albertson and Martin Sheen. Frank Gilroy’s play about a soldier who returns home to his battling parents wins both the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for Best Play.
1999 Audience members to East is East, opening at Manhattan Theatre Club, are treated to the smell of frying fish and chips. Director Scott Elliott makes every effort to engage the audience in the surroundings of Ayub Khan-Din’s drama about a Pakistani family in England.
1999 Thwak joins the list of onomatopoeic shows that have made it to the stage as performances start at Off-Broadway’s Minetta Lane Theatre. The Australian comedy duo of David Collins and Shane Dundas, better known as The Umbilical Brothers, present an evening of physical comedy and self-produced sound effects.
2002 Josephine R. Abady, a major regional theatre director who served as artistic director of The Cleveland Playhouse and Circle in the Square in New York City, dies at her Manhattan home. She was 52.
2004 Laura Linney earns her second Tony nomination for Sight Unseen. The Donald Margulies play about a celebrated artist and the battle with his former lover over her portrait opens at Manhattan Theatre Club and runs for 70 performances.
2016 Cirque du Soleil kicks off the 2016–2017 Broadway season with Paramour, the company’s first made-for-Broadway musical. Jeremy Kushnier, Ruby Lewis, and Ryan Vona lead the 38-person cast of singers, actors, dancers, aerialists, acrobats, and circus arts performers. The production runs 366 performances at the Lyric Theatre.
More of Today’s Birthdays: Hal David (1921–2012); Joseph Bova (1924–2006); Roger Bowen (1932–1996); Dixie Carter (1939–2010); Deanna Dunagan (b. 1940); Eve Ensler (b. 1953); Anne Heche (b. 1969).
Watch Leslie Uggams sing “If He Walked Into My Life” and talk about her famous performance of “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over’: