Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 22

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 22
A scene from <i>The Frogs.</i>
A scene from The Frogs. Paul Kolnik

1912 The Shubert Brothers open the first of their annual Passing Show installments. The Passing Show of 1912 features Charlotte Greenwood, Trixie Friganza, and Eugene and Willie Howard. There are 136 performances and new editions of the revue every year for the next eleven years.

1998 Stage and television star Blair Brown is scheduled to take over the role of Fraulein Schneider in the Roundabout's Tony-winning revival of Cabaret tonight at the Kit Kat Klub. However, a Times Square construction accident that deprived Tony nominee Mary Louise Wilson of her final performance the night before keeps the show from performing today as well. In fact, while the other shows forced to temporarily shut down because of the accident are able to resume within the week, Cabaret finds itself closed down until late August. On August 20, Cabaret finally reopens with Brown as the gentile half of a doomed love affair. A new Sally Bowles, Jennifer Jason Leigh, is on board as well. Neither Wilson nor Leigh's predecessor, Natasha Richardson, are able to give a farewell performance.

1999 Marian Seldes follows up her Tony-nominated turn in Ring Round the Moon with the Irish Repertory Theatre's staging of Jerome Kilty's Dear Liar. The story of the 40-year romance between playwright George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who originated the role of Eliza Doolittle in Shaw's Pygmalion, was adapted from the couples' long correspondence. Irish actor Donal Donnelly stars opposite Seldes under the direction of Charlotte Moore.

1999 Jessica Boevers, Stephen DeRosa, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, and Karen Ziemba star in a new musical by Robert and Willie Reale, Quark Victory, staged at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. The sci-fi camp comedy follows Samantha Fitzwater (played by Boevers) as she journeys into an atom, meeting electrons, neutrons, muons, and gluons along the way. Jonathan Bernstein directs.

1999 Naked Boys Singing, a comedy revue whose title says it all, opens Off-Broadway at the Actors Playhouse, beginning a run of more than 3,000 performances.

2001 Chicago's Pegasus Players hosts the world premiere of the musical, Muscle, by James Lapine, composer William Finn, and lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh. Originally planned by Lapine as a companion piece to Stephen Sondheim's one-act Passion, it finally makes its debut with a new songwriting team.

2002 Leo McKern, the rubbery-face character actor who won fans for playing the TV role of the tobacco-loving, blustery barrister, Rumpole of the Bailey, dies in Bath, England. The Sydney, Australia native was 82, and had a career on the London stage in Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Ibsen roles prior to success on film, including Help! with the Beatles.

2003 Roundabout Theatre Company closes a deal to buy Studio 54 as its headquarters for musical revivals on Broadway. The nearly $25 million deal is completed with the sale of more than $17 million in bonds added to a $6.75 million grant from New York City. It's full-circle for the legendary former discotheque, which began life in 1927 as a theatre, the Gallo Opera House.

2004 Stephen Sondheim returns to Broadway with his first (mostly) new score in a decade. Lincoln Center Theater’s production of The Frogs is an expanded version of Sondheim’s short 1973 musical, which had debuted literally in the swimming pool at Yale University. Based on Aristophanes’ comedy of the same title, it is the story of Dionysos, the god of wine and drama, who descends to Hades to bring back a great writer to reawaken the spirit and conscience of the living world. Nathan Lane, who plays Dionysos, makes his Broadway debut as a librettist, with Susan Stroman directing.

2008 Estelle Getty, the actor who spent decades struggling in obscurity before becoming an overnight star as a salty, back-talking grandmother in the hit sitcom Golden Girls, dies at her home on Hollywood Boulevard at the age of 84. She appeared on Broadway in 1982, originating the role of Mrs. Beckoff in Toch Song Trilogy.

Today's Birthdays: Margaret Whiting 1924. Orson Bean 1928. Grover Dale 1935. Danny Glover 1946. Alan Menken 1949. John Leguizamo 1964. Adam Cooper 1971.

Watch highlights from the 2012 Broadway production of Newsies, featuring music by Alan Menken:

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