Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 27

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 27
Lee Wilkof and Ellen Greene in Little Shop of Horrors.
Lee Wilkof and Ellen Greene in Little Shop of Horrors. Peter Cunningham

1982 Little Shop of Horrors begins a 2,209-performance run at Off-Broadway's Orpheum Theatre. Based on the Roger Corman cult classic about a man-eating plant, the Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical stars Lee Wilkof and Ellen Greene. The 1986 film version of the musical, directed by Frank Oz, stars Rick Moranis, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, John Candy, and Greene reprising her stage role as Audrey.

1997 After 738 performances, the Broadway production of Victor/Victoria terminates its run after today's matinee performance. Based on the 1982 Blake Edwards film of the same name, the Edwards-helmed stage version of Victoria opened in fall 1995 at the Marriott Marquis with stage and screen legend Julie Andrews in the leading role(s). Andrews had also starred in the film version, earning an Academy Award nomination for her performance. During the first year of the show's run, Andrews and the show became the center of a Tony nomination controversy. When Victor/Victoria failed to garner any nominations other than for Julie Andrews' performance, she announced she would decline that honor in protest of the nominating committee ignoring all other members of what she called an "egregiously overlooked" company. Subsequent stars of the Broadway production were Liza Minnelli, who filled in for several weeks while Andrews took a vacation, and Raquel Welch.

1999 Cross-dressing British comedian Eddie Izzard begins previews for Lenny, based on the life of American shock comedian Lenny Bruce. The production, directed by Sir Peter Hall, plays at the Queen's Theatre in London.

2000 Nathan Lane stars as Sheridan Whiteside and Jean Smart stars as Lorraine Sheldon in a revival of the Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman play, The Man Who Came to Dinner, opening at the Roundabout Theatre Company's new Broadway house, the American Airlines Theatre. Lane is probably remembered more for his second starring role of the season, as Max Bialystock in The Producers, which wins him the Tony Award for Best Actor. The American Airlines Theatre is the refurbished and rechristened Selwyn Theatre on 42nd Street.

2001 Alan King plays legendary film producer Samuel Goldwyn in Mr. Goldwyn at New York Stage and Film in Poughkeepsie, New York. Marsha Lebby and John Lollos' play transfers Off-Broadway the following year.

2003 Actor and comedian Bob Hope dies at age 100. Though he's known primarily for his film career, he appeared in eight Broadway musicals in the late 1920s and early 1930s, notably Jerome Kern's Roberta, Cole Porter's Red, Hot and Blue, and Vernon Duke's Ziegfeld Follies of 1936.

2008 I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, which opened Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre on August 1, 1996, plays its final performance. The musical revue played a total of 20 previews and 5,003 regular performances, making it the second longest-running musical in Off-Broadway history.

2008 Stuart W. Little, who for three decades covered the New York theatre as a reporter and author, dies at age 86. He wrote a theatre column for the New York Herald Tribune from 1958 until the newspaper closed in 1966. Thereafter, he became known for a series of books that examined the inner workings of the theatre business.

2017 Playwright Sam Shepard, whose works include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child, the Tony-nominated True West, and Fool for Love, dies at the age of 73.

2018 The world premiere of Tom Kitt, Thomas Meehan, and Nell Benjamin's musical Dave, based on the 1993 film of the same name, opens at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Drew Gehling stars as Dave Kovic, a high school teacher (and presidential lookalike) who is hired by the Secret Service as a stand-in for the Commander-in-Chief. Directed by Tina Landau, the cast also includes Mamie Parris as the First Lady, and Douglas Sills as Chief of Staff.

Today's Birthdays: Alexandre Dumas, fils 1824. Miles White 1914. Keenan Wynn 1916. Beatrice Pearson 1920. Maureen McGovern 1949. Simon Jones 1950.

Watch Little Shop of Horrors composer Alan Menken talk about the musical:

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