Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 20

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 20
 
In 1957, Langston Hughes and David Martin's musical Simply Heavenly re-opens on Broadway after being forced out of the 85th Street Playhouse.
Simply Heavenly_Broadway_Production Photos_1957_HR
Cast Friedman-Abeles/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

1885 The hit London operetta The Mikado, by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, makes its Broadway premiere at the Fifth Avenue Theatre.

1924 Victor Herbert's operetta The Dream Girl, starring Fay Bainter and George LeMaire, opens at the Ambassador Theatre. It runs 117 performances.

1934 Playwright Sidney Kingsley has a hit with a stage adaptation of Sinclair Lewis's novel Dodsworth, starring Walter Huston, Fay Bainter, and the ever-mysterious Georgette Spelvin. Having originally opened at the Shubert Theatre on February 24, 1934, the production returns today following a summer hiatus.

1956 Future stage and film actor Joan Allen is born in Rochelle, Illinois. Allen has several great successes on the Broadway stage, winning the Tony Award for her performance in Burn This and a nomination for her performance of the title role in Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles. In filmdom, Allen receives Academy Award nominations as Best Supporting Actress for 1995's Nixon and 1996's The Crucible, and a nomination for Best Actress for 2000's The Contender. Other film credits include Searching for Bobby Fisher, Face/Off, and Peggy Sue Got Married.

1957 Two months after being forced out of the 85th Street Playhouse when the theatre was closed for violating fire department regulations and operating without a license, Langston Hughes and David Martin's musical Simply Heavenly re-opens on Broadway at the Playhouse Theatre. The production is once again directed by Joshua Shelley and stars Claudia McNeil, Melvin Stewart, Anna English, John Bouie, and Marilyn Berry.

1987 Frank Langella and Donal Donnelly star as Holmes and Watson in Charles Marowitz's Sherlock's Last Case, which begins a 124-performance run on Broadway.

1998 Returning to Off-Broadway, where she originated the role of Li'l Bit in Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive in 1997, film and stage actor Mary-Louise Parker stars in Alan Ayckbourn's Communicating Doors. The comedy-thriller opens tonight at the Variety Arts Theatre. Two years later, Parker originates the role of Catherine in David Auburn's Proof at Manhattan Theatre Club and wins the Tony Award for Best Actress when it transfers to Broadway.

2004 Angels in America star Kathleen Chalfant heads the Off-Broadway cast of Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom. The documentary drama is based on testimony of British prisoners detained by American forces at the Guantanamo military base under suspicion of terrorist activities.

2015 The musical Waitress, featuring a score by Sara Bareilles, opens its pre-Broadway run at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jessie Mueller stars as waitress and pie maker Jenna. The production opens at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre less than a year later.

More of Today's Birthdays: Jacqueline Susann (1918–1974). Regina Resnik (1922–2013). Andrew Garfield (b. 1983). Alex Newell (b. 1992).

Watch highlights from the 2016 Broadway production of Waitress, starring Jessie Mueller:

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