Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: May 26

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: May 26
 
Carol Burnett and Jack Cassidy in Fade Out - Fade In.
Carol Burnett and Jack Cassidy in Fade Out - Fade In. Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

1913 One hundred and twelve actors gather at the Pabst Grand Circle Hotel near Columbus Circle in New York City and vote to form the Actors’ Equity Association. Comedian Francis Wilson is elected the first president of the union representing American stage performers.

1919 La, La, Lucille is notable more for being George Gershwin’s first full Broadway score than its plot of a young dentist setting up an adulterous scene so he can divorce his wife. The New York Times calls it “the incarnation of jazz.” The musical runs for 104 performances.

1924 American composer and conductor Victor Herbert dies in New York. He is best known for his operettas Babes in Toyland and Naughty Marietta.

1947 John Gielgud directs and stars in a revival of William Congreve’s 1695 comedy Love for Love at the Royal Theatre. Gielgud and his company of British actors perform the play 48 times, before taking it on tour.

1964 Following her success in Once Upon a Mattress, Carol Burnett stars in Fade Out - Fade In, an original musical written for her, and ever so slightly inspired by an incident in her early life. Jule Styne writes the music, and Betty Comden and Adolph Green provide the book and lyrics. The show runs just 271 performances and Burnett does not appear in another Broadway show for more than 30 years.

1971 Lenny, starring Cliff Gorman as comedian Lenny Bruce, opens on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Tom O’Horgan directs the production featuring his music and Julian Barry’s words. Joe Silver and Erica Yohn also star.

1982 Christopher Durang’s comedy Beyond Therapy opens at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest star, and a young actor named David Pierce (later known as David Hyde Pierce) makes his Broadway debut. It runs only 21 performances.

1983 Sam Shepard directs his Fool For Love, about a chance meeting between two former lovers at a seedy motel near the Mojave Desert. The Circle Repertory Company production opens Off-Broadway and wins five Obie Awards for Best New American Play for stars Ed Harris, Kathy Baker, and Will Patton, as well as for Shepard’s direction.

2004 Ten Chimneys, the Genesee Depot, Wisconsin, estate of the late great acting couple Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, is declared a National Historic Landmark. The estate opened to the public as a museum and arts center in 2003.

Today’s Birthdays: Joseph Urban (1872–1933); Charles Winninger (1884–1969); Norma Talmadge (1894–1957); Robert Morley (1908–1992); Peggy Lee (1920–2002); Alec McCowen (1925–2017); Ron Holgate (b. 1937); Teresa Stratas (b. 1938); Carole Demas (1940); Margaret Colin (b. 1958).

Watch clips from the 2015 Broadway production of Fool For Love, starring Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell:

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