Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 27

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 27
The cast of the 2011 Broadway production of The Normal Heart.
The cast of the 2011 Broadway production of The Normal Heart. Joan Marcus

1903 The Cohan family is Running for Office. Son George M. Cohan wrote the book and the music at the 14th Street Theatre. It runs for six weeks.

1911 The Folies Bergere Theatre in New York hosts a triple-bill. Hell, described as "a profane burlesque," Temptation, a ballet by Alfredo Curti, and Gaby "a satirical revuette in three acts." It runs for 92 performances.

1937 Birthday of actor Sandy Dennis (1937-1992), who stars as a quirky ingenue in 1960s comedies A Thousand Clowns and Any Wednesday, and is famously called "critics' darling" in William Goldman's 1968 book, The Season.

1945 Birthday of playwright August Wilson, whose massive cycle of plays about African-American life in each decade of the 20th century includes two Pulitzer winners: Fences and The Piano Lesson.

1963 American author, historian, and film producer Kenneth MacGowan dies at the age of 74. From 1919 to 1925 he was editor of Theatre Arts Magazine. It was also during this time that he was associated with the Provincetown Playhouse. He is the author of many books including A Theatre of Tomorrow and Footlights Across America.

1978 Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July plays Off-Broadway at the Circle Repertory Theatre. William Hurt stars as disabled Vietnam veteran Kenneth Talley. The play makes its Broadway debut two years later, starring Christopher Reeve.

1981 Woody Allen returns to Broadway for the first time in more than a decade with the play The Floating Light Bulb, about a young would-be magician growing up amid comic family problems. It runs 62 performances a the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, starring Danny Aiello and Bea Arthur.

1986 Debbie Allen stars as Sweet Charity in a revival of the Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields-Neil Simon musical at the Minskoff Theatre. Bebe Neuwirth and Michael Rupert win Tony Awards for their featured roles; the show itself takes home the Best Revival award.

1997 Cy Coleman returns to Broadway with the help of Ira Gasman and David Newman with their musical, The Life, opening at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. This show about the life of prostitutes in 1980s Times Square stars Chuck Cooper, Pamela Isaacs, Kevin Ramsey, and Lillias White. Cooper and White both win Tony Awards for their performances.

2000 Just months after moving Contact to Broadway, director/choreographer Susan Stroman opens a revival of The Music Man with Craig Bierko and Rebecca Luker. It runs 699 performances.

2008 Frances McDormand, Morgan Freeman, and Peter Gallagher head the cast of the Broadway revival of Clifford Odets' The Country Girl, which officially opens at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The production is directed by Mike Nichols.

2009 The Goodman Theatre's acclaimed production of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, the 1924 tale of lust, promises, property, and familial betrayal, opens at Broadway's St. James Theatre. Robert Falls directs the production, which stars Brian Dennehy, Carla Gugino, and Pablo Schreiber. It runs only 32 performances.

2010 The acclaimed London production of Lucy Prebble's Enron, a docudrama that uses song, movement, projections, video, masks—and naturalistic workplace scenes—to tell the real-life American corporate crime story, opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre. For the U.S. debut, Norbert Leo Butz, Gregory Itzin, Stephen Kunken, and Marin Mazzie play the four principal wrongdoers at the top of the Enron foodchain in Houston. The production does not repeat its London success, and closes 12 days later.

2011 Utilizing elements from a starry reading that was seen in October 2010, Larry Kramer's groundbreaking, emotionally powerful The Normal Heart makes its Broadway debut at the John Golden Theatre. The drama about fear in the early days of the AIDS crisis stars Joe Mantello, Ellen Barkin, and John Benjamin Hickey. Barkin and Hickey both win Tony Awards for their performances, and the play wins Best Revival.

2011 Baby It's You!, a jukebox musical about record producer Florence Greenberg, opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre. Beth Leavel plays Greenberg, the New Jersey housewife who launched the 1960s girl-group The Shirelles and created Scepter Records.

2011 Marian Mercer, who won a Tony Award for her performance as Marge MacDougall in the hit 1960s musical Promises, Promises, dies at age 75. Mercer's other Broadway appearances included Greenwillow, New Faces of 1962, A Place for Polly, Hay Fever, Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, and Bosoms and Neglect.

2016 Jessica Lange plays Mary Tyrone in a Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night at the Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre. The cast also includes Gabriel Byrne as James Tyrone, Michael Shannon as James Tyrone, Jr., and John Gallagher Jr. as Edmund Tyrone. At the Tony Awards, Lange wins for Best Actress in a Play.

More of Today's Birthdays: Jack Cole 1914. Jack Klugman 1922. Alan J. Pakula 1928. Judy Carne 1939. Patrick Page 1962. Ari Graynor 1983.

Watch highlights from Jessica Lange's Tony Award-winning performance in the 2016 Broadway revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night:

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