1921 Composer Richard Adler is born today. Along with Jerry Ross he will go on to write two of the most influential musicals of the 1950s: The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees. The successful partnership will be short-lived, however, as Ross will die 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 will stay 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 who turns out to be lying in an attempt to advance her own career. When Bergner tells her experience to Mary Orr, fiancee 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 today, taking with it the honeycomb of eight OB and OOB 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 today 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.
1998 For the first time since a Times Square construction accident shut down business July 21, the Off-Broadway musical Smoke On The Mountain performed. The production, first produced OB 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 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center's Music Theater Conference in Connecticut. Within a year it will get an Off-Broadway production that will lead to a Broadway transfer and the Tony Award as 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. Kelli O'Hara will play Francesca when the production opens on Broadway in 2014, but is unable to do the tryout because she is pregnant.