Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 18

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 18
A scene from <i>Hairspray</i> on Broadway.
A scene from Hairspray on Broadway. Paul Kolnik

1928 Following the birth of "talkie" films, Variety prints an article focusing on the amount of legit theatre talent that is being sought for this new medium. Among those stage actors being pursued for the silver screen is a Yiddish Theatre star named Muni Wiesenfreund, whose name will later be changed to Paul Muni.

1966 The Abbey Theatre of Dublin, Ireland is founded. It will go on to provide a central showcase for Irish playwrights new and old.

1972 A compilation of four one-act plays by Frank D. Gilroy, titled Present Tense, opens today at the Sheridan Square Playhouse. Starring in Come Next Tuesday, Twas Brillig, So Please Be Kind, and the title play are Biff McGuire and Lois Smith. There will be only eight performances.

1985 The Negro Ensemble Company present Trevor Rhone's Two Can Play at Off-Broadway's Theatre Four. The play that explores a victory over male chauvinism is directed by Clinton Turner Davis and stars Hazel J. Medina and Sullivan H. Walker.

1999 Laurie Metcalf returns to Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company as Maureen Folan in Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Directing the production is another prodigal son of Steppenwolf, Randall Arney.

2002 Future Tony-winning musical Hairspray plays its first Broadway preview at the Neil Simon Theatre.

2006 Henry Hewes, 89, the longtime theatre critic at The Saturday Review who championed regional theatre and founded the American Theater Critics Association, dies at his home in Manhattan.

2013 The New York premiere of Itamar Moses and Gaby Alter's musical Nobody Loves You, about a grad student who is unexpectedly cast on a reality TV dating show, opens at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre. The cast includes Bryan Fenkart, Leslie Kritzer, Lauren Molina and Rory O'Malley.

Today's Birthdays: Eugene Lockhart 1891. Dave Chasen 1898. Clifford Odets 1906. Lupe Velez 1908. Hume Cronyn 1911. Red Skelton 1913. Dolph Sweet 1920. Elizabeth McGovern 1961. Craig Bierko 1964. Kristen Bell 1980.

To celebrate Kristen Bell's birthday, here is a look back at Bell and her Frozen co-stars Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana, singing songs from the Disney animated musical:

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