Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 21

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 21
Lillias White and Sahr Ngaujah in Fela!
Lillias White and Sahr Ngaujah in Fela! Monique Carboni

1951 Birthday of actress Lillias White, whose Broadway appearances include Effie White in Dreamgirls, Miss Jones in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti in Fela!. She will win the Tony Award for her performance as Sonja in The Life.

1955 The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company opens its production of Much Ado About Nothing today at London's Palace Theatre. John Gielgud directs and stars, opposite Peggy Ashcroft, in the Shakespeare comedy. Much Ado will be followed on July 26 by a production of King Lear.

1980 Peter Pan grows up today — and gets married. The Tony nominated star of Broadway's then-current revival, Sandy Duncan, takes just enough time off from Neverland to marry A Chorus Line dancer Don Correia. Not long after her gig replacing Twiggy in 1983's My One And Only, Duncan will leave Broadway for sunnier climes, as she joins the cast of the televsion sitcom "The Hogan Family." Duncan will later return to Broadway as Roxie Hart in Chicago.

1971 Fiddler on the Roof, which opened Sep. 22, 1964, surpasses Hello, Dolly! as the longest running musical with 2,845 performances. The show will finally close its doors July 2 of next year.

1976 A revival of Guys and Dolls features a cast composed entirely of African-American actors, led by Robert Guillaume, Norma Donaldson and Ken Page. It will run 239 performances

1998 Boxer-turned-TV star Tony Danza, known for his work on "Taxi" and "Who's The Boss," takes over the lead role of Eddie in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge. He succeeds Tony-winning Best Actor Anthony LaPaglia in the Tony-winning Best Revival of a Play about a man afraid of losing his niece and the security of his own sexuality.

1998 At 8:30 this morning a construction elevator falls from a high floor of the Conde Nest building on Broadway between 42nd and 43rd street, causing the scaffolding on the outside of the half-erected building to plummet to the ground. Damage caused by the accident forces nearby Broadway productions Cabaret and Side Man to cancel tonight's performances. Side Man is able to resume performances July 28, but Cabaret will not be as lucky. Its home at the time, the Kit Kat Klub, proves to be inaccessible for nearly a month following the accident. By the time Cabaret resumes performances August 20, new leading ladies Jennifer Jason Leigh and Blair Brown are in the cast, with original stars Natasha Richardson and Mary Louise Wilson having missed their planned final performances. Come November, Cabaret will move out of the Kit Kat Klub into a larger venue twelve blocks away called Studio 54.

2006 Mako, the Japanese actor who earned a Tony Award nomination for playing the Reciter in the original Broadway production of Pacific Overtures, dies at age 72 at his home in Somis, California.

2008 Gladys Nederlander, a theatre producer and member of the powerful theatrical family that owns and operates theatres across the United States, died in New York City. The cause was heart failure. She was 83.

2011 The question of why mortals cling so passionately to life hangs in the air of the Maury Yeston-Thomas Meehan musical, Death Takes a Holiday, opening in a world-premiere Off-Broadway engagement at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Laura Pels Theatre. Understudy Kevin Earley plays the title role on opening night, when British star Julian Ovenden becomes ill with laryngitis. Ovenden will attempt to return to the role on Aug. 2, but after being unable to get past the opening moments of the show, announces his permanent withdrawal from the production the following day.

2012 Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh lead the Sydney Theatre Company production of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, opening at New York City Center for a ten-performance run as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Directed by Tamás Ascher, the production stars Blanchett as Yelena with Roxburgh in the title role.

2015 Theodore Bikel, a stage and film actor who played Captain Von Trapp in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music, dies at age 91. Mr. Bikel received Tony nominations for his performances in The Sound of Music and The Rope Dancers, and played the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof more than 2,000 times on tour and at various venues.

More of Today's Birthdays: Don Knotts 1924. Jonathan Miller 1934. Penny Fuller 1940. Patricia Elliott 1942. Edward Herrmann 1943. Garry Trudeau 1948. Robin Williams 1951.

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