Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 15

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 15
 
Chris Urch's play The Rolling Stone opens at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater directed by Saheem Ali.


1905 Birthday of lyricist and librettist Dorothy Fields, daughter of vaudeville star Lew Fields of Weber & Fields. Among her numerous credits over six decades from the 1920s to the 1970s: Blackbirds of 1928, Let's Face It! (book), Annie Get Your Gun (book), Redhead (book and lyrics), Sweet Charity (lyrics), and Seesaw (lyrics). She is nominated for three Tony Awards and wins one, for her work on Redhead.

1937 Though it has been moribund for several years, Vaudeville is officially declared dead today, as Variety merges its "vaudeville" and "nite clubs" sections for the first time ever. The entertainment newspaper explains that "the vaudeville department has lately been particularly difficult to fill up."

1949 Irving Berlin tries to recreate the success of Annie Get Your Gun by reassembling the creative team for a musical about the sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty. Despite direction by Moss Hart and choreography by Jerome Robbins, Miss Liberty runs a disappointing 308 performances, but produces a modest hit tune in "Let's Take an Old-Fashioned Walk."

1982 Nathan Lane makes his Broadway debut opposite George C. Scott in a revival of Noel Coward's Present Laughter. Also in the blessed cast are future stars Christine Lahti, Kate Burton, and Dana Ivey.

1998 Trevor Nunn's staging of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People begins at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre. The Royal National Theatre production starring Ian McKellen tells the story of a Norwegian doctor's attempt to expose a scandal in which the local baths are dangerously contaminated. The production's script is a new version by Christopher Hampton.

2002 Five years prior to making their Broadway debuts with the Legally Blonde musical, songwriters Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin premiere another musical adaptation, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Off-Broadway. The musical is dapted for the stage by playwright Julia Jordan (from Patricia MacLachlan's novel and the TV movie starring Glenn Close), who penned the book, with direction by Joe Calarco. The Theatreworks/USA production plays a limited run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, with free tickets available to family audiences.

2003 The Public Theater presents a truncated Shakespeare in the Park summer season at the Delacorte with a staging of Henry V, directed by Mark Wing-Davey, and starring Liev Schreiber as the young king. The role is a continuation of Schreiber's long artistic relationship with The Public, having previously starred at Iachimo in Cymbeline in 1998, also in Central Park (for which he won an Obie Award); Hamlet in 1999; and Iago in Othello in 2001. The cast of Henry V also features Colman Domingo as the Duke of Bourbon, Arie Thompson as Queen Elizabeth, and Daniel Oreskes as the Duke of Exeter.

2010 Harry Connick, Jr. In Concert on Broadway begins a limited 15-performance run at the Neil Simon Theatre. The evening highlights songs from Connick, Jr.'s album "Your Songs," including "The Way You Look Tonight," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Close to You," "Who Can I Turn To?," and "Smile."

2015 The Encores! Off-Center staging of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party, starring Sutton Foster and Steven Pasquale, begins performances at New York City Center. Lippa revises his musical for the occasion, including adding a new song for the character of Queenie (played by Foster), called "A Happy Ending."

2018 A revival of Fiddler on the Roof, presented in Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles, opens in New York at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Joel Grey directs the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene production, starring Steven Skybell as Tevye, Mary Illes as Golde, and Jackie Hoffman as Yente. Following an extended sold-out run, it transfers uptown to Off-Broadway's Stage 42 in February 2019.

2019 The Rolling Stone, a new play by Chris Urch, officially opens at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. The family drama, set in Uganda, finds a gay man and his church pastor brother clashing over the sexuality he is forced to hide under the country's extreme laws. Directed by Saheem Ali, the play stars Ato Blankson-Wood, Latoya Edwards, Robert Gilbert, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Adenike Thomas, and James Udom.

Today's Birthdays: Joan Roberts 1918. Joanna Merlin 1931. Ken Kercheval 1935. Laura Benanti 1979.

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