Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 5

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 5
David Tennant in Hamlet
David Tennant in Hamlet Ellie Kurttz/RSC

1977 All Broadway marquee lights are dimmed in honor of actor Alfred Lunt who died two days earlier. This is only the third time up to that point that such an action has been taken.

1984 Richard Burton dies at the age of 58. A well-respected stage and film star, Burton was the original King Arthur opposite the Guinevere of Julie Andrews in the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical, Camelot. Burton's film credits include Cleopatra and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He also appeared on Broadway replacing Anthony Perkins in Equus, and opposite Elizabeth Taylor in Private Lives.

1998 The Broadhurst Theatre temporarily becomes part of the comedy club circuit as Jerry Seinfeld presents his I'm Telling You for the Last Time for 10 performances in five nights. The comic known for his high-pitched "What's up with that?" style and his television sitcom Seinfeld performs some of his best known routines, then retires the material and claims he'll never do any of the jokes again.

2001 PBS broadcasts a documentary about the making of the cast album of The Producers. Creator Mel Brooks says it's one of the greatest days of his life.

2008 Gregory Doran's sold-out production of Hamlet, starring David Tennant in the title role and Patrick Stewart as Claudius, opens at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The production later transfers to the West End and is filmed for television broadcast.

2012 Memphis, David Bryan and Joe DiPietro's Tony Award-winning musical about a soulful, white radio DJ and his love for a black singer at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, ends its run on Broadway after 1,166 performances at the Shubert Theatre.

2014 The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park production of King Lear, starring John Lithgow in the title role, opens at the Delacorte Theater. Directed by Daniel Sullivan, the cast also includes Annette Bening as Goneril, Jessica Collins as Cordelia, Jessica Hecht as Regan, and Steven Boyer as the Fool.

2018 Actor Charlotte Rae, best known for playing Edna Garrett on TV’s Diff’rent Strokes and its spinoff, The Facts of Life, dies at age 92. Her stage appearances included the original Broadway productions of The Golden Apple and Li'l Abner, Mrs. Peachum in the 1954 Off-Broadway revival of The Three Threepenny Opera, and Jack's Mother in the 1988 national tour of Into the Woods. She received two Tony nominations, for playing Mrs. Bardell in the musical Pickwick, and Gertrude, Beryl, and Filigree Bones in Morning, Noon and Night.

Today's Birthdays: Reginald Owen 1887. Clare Eames 1896. Wilbur Evans 1905. Alan Howard 1937. Jonathan Silverman 1966.

Watch highlights from Memphis on Broadway:

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