Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 3

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 3
Karen Olivo and Aaron Tveit in Moulin Rouge! Matthew Murphy

1921 Composer Richard Adler is born. Along with Jerry Ross he writes two of the most influential musicals of the 1950s: The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees. The successful partnership is short-lived, however, as Ross dies tragically in 1956 at the age of 29.

1943 Martin Vale's melodrama The Two Mrs. Carrolls opens on Broadway at the Booth Theatre, where it stays for 585 performances. Elisabeth Bergner stars as a woman who finds out her husband (played by Victor Jory) is attempting to murder her. During the run, Bergner befriends a fan who waits for her nightly at the stagedoor, but turns out to be lying in an attempt to advance her own career. When Bergner tells her experience to Mary Orr, fiancée of the play's director Reginald Denham, Orr uses it as the basis for her short story "The Wisdom of Eve," which is later adapted into the classic movie All About Eve.

1973 In one of the greatest disasters in Off-Broadway history, the 1870-vintage Broadway Central Hotel at 240 Mercer Street collapses, taking with it the honeycomb of eight theatre spaces known as the Mercer Arts Center. Among the shows left homeless by the collapse are the long-running One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Proposition, and El Coca Cola Grande.

1977 Alfred Lunt dies at age 84. One the most celebrated stage actors of his time, Lunt was best known for his many performances opposite wife and stage partner Lynn Fontanne. Together they appeared in productions of such plays as The Seagull, The Visit, Design for Living, and I Know My Love. A theatre saluting the memory of the legendary pair stands on 46th Street near Broadway in New York City.

1978 Sammy Davis, Jr. makes his final Broadway appearance, playing Littlechap in a revival of the Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley musical Stop the World - I Want to Get Off. It runs 30 performances.

1998 For the first time since a Times Square construction accident shut down business on July 21, the Off-Broadway musical Smoke On The Mountain performs. The production, first produced Off-Broadway in 1990 at the Lamb's Theatre, returns to its home, this time on the upstairs mainstage. Connie Ray and Alan Bailey's musical starring Robert Olsen tells of a humble, religious family who make music for local church groups and socials.

2002 Avenue Q is presented as one of three in-development musicals at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's Music Theater Conference in Connecticut. Within a year it gets an Off-Broadway production that leads to a Broadway transfer and the Tony Award for Best Musical.

2013 The world premiere of Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman's musical The Bridges of Madison County opens at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Bartlett Sher directs the Broadway-bound production, starring Elena Shaddow as Francesca and Steven Pasquale as Robert. Kelli O'Hara plays Francesca when the production opens on Broadway in 2014, but is unable to do the tryout because she is pregnant.

2018 The stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge! opens its world-premiere engagement at Boston's Emerson Colonial Theatre. The production, directed by Alex Timbers and with a book by John Logan, combines songs from the movie with newer pop hits like Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies." Aaron Tveit and Karen Olivo star as poet Christian and courtesan Satine. The production opens on Broadway the following year.

More of Today's Birthdays: Francis Byrne 1876. A. Larry Haines 1918. Maria Karnilova 1920. Tony Bennett 1926. Martin Sheen 1940. Mamie Gummer 1983.

Flip through photos from the 2013 world premiere of The Bridges of Madison County:

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