1856 A Dramatic genius is born today in the person of George Bernard Shaw. Among Shaw's many playwriting credits are Pygmalion, Man and Superman, and Saint Joan. The first, a comedy about one Professor Henry Higgins determined to turn a cockney flower girl into a "lady," becomes the basis for the Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe masterpiece My Fair Lady.
1945 Stage and film star Helen Mirren is born in London, England. She receives repeated acclaim for playing Queen Elizabeth II, winning an Academy Award for the film The Queen, and Tony and Olivier Awards for The Audience. In 2003, she receives a damehood for services to drama.
1999 Andrea Martin is The Cat in the Hat in the workshop of the new Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty musical The Seussical (later known as Seussical the Musical, and then just Seussical) in Toronto. Director Frank Galati helms a cast that includes Kevin Chamberlin, Jason Fuchs, Janine LaManna, David Lowenstein, Michele Pawk, and others. The musical based on the work of late children's author Dr. Seuss (real name: Theodore Geisel) opens at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre on November 30, 2000—but with David Shiner as the Cat.
2000 Thrice extended at Chicago's Goodman Studio Theatre, Rebecca Gilman's comedy Spinning Into Butter opens Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Directed by Daniel Sullivan, the show featuring Hope Davis and Daniel Jenkins exposes the cosmetic and sometimes destructive political correctness that erupts on a small Vermont college campus when an African-American student finds several racist notes pinned to his door.
2004 Like an open vein, water from a burst pipe spurts into the stage left wing of the Belasco Theatre, halting rehearsals for Dracula, the Musical two days before its first preview. Due to the spillage, the start of previews is postponed to July 30.
2009 Merce Cunningham, the American choreographer who was one of the most important and influential forces in the dance world during the 20th century, dies at age 90.
More of Today's Birthdays: Aldous Huxley 1894. Gracie Allen 1895. Herbert Fields 1897. Vivian Vance 1909. Blake Edwards 1922. Jason Robards, Jr. 1922. Santo Loquasto 1944. Kevin Spacey 1959. Jeremy Piven 1965. Tamyra Gray 1979.
Flip through photos of Helen Mirren's stage performances: