Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 8

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 8
Christine Ebersole and Richard Burton in Camelot.
Christine Ebersole and Richard Burton in Camelot. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1913 Birthday of theatre critic Walter Kerr (1913-1996), namesake of Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre. In addition to his career as a reviewer, which took him from the New York Herald-Tribune to The New York Times and a 1978 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, he also directed or wrote book and/or lyrics for six Broadway shows, including Goldilocks and Touch and Go. His wife, playwright Jean Kerr, based her book and film Please Don't Eat the Daisies on their life together in suburban Larchmont, NY.

1967 Stage and film legend Vivien Leigh dies at age 54. Winner of an Academy Award for her star-making performance as Scarlett O'Hara in the film Gone With the Wind, Leigh also starred as Blanche DuBois in the Laurence Olivier-directed London premiere of A Streetcar Named Desire, a role she repeated on film. Among her other stage credits was the 1963 musical version of Tovarich.

1980 Twenty years after he was crowned King Arthur to Julie Andrews' Guenevere, Richard Burton takes on the role once more in a revival of Camelot. The musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe plays at Lincoln Center's New York State Theatre and co-stars Christine Ebersole as the Lady to Burton's King.

1982 A stage adaptation of the film musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers opens to withering reviews on Broadway. The cast pickets The New York Times, but to no avail. The production closes after just 5 performances. Featured in the cast are Debby Boone and David Carroll.

2000 Playwright Rob Ackerman's new play Tabletop that deals with the much ado'd business of television commercials begins performances tonight Off Off-Broadway. The Working Theatre presentation receives critical and audience acceptance and later transfers to an Off-Broadway run at the American Place Theatre.

2002 Harlem Song, George C. Wolfe's revue tracing the social and musical history of New York's Harlem neighborhood, opens at the legendary Apollo Theatre on 125th Street.

2002 Lore Noto, producer of Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks, dies at age 79, just six months after the musical ended its record 41-year run. Noto defied industry advice to close the show after lukewarm overnight reviews on May 3, 1960, and watched the little "Try to Remember" show blossom into phenomenon that became the longest-running musical ever. He helped the show's bottom line by appearing for some years in the role of the Boy's Father, Hucklebee.

2004 William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin collaborate on a new musical that has its debut at the Barrington Stage Company. Within a year The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee moves to Off-Broadway, then to Broadway, where it wins Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler).

2012 Martin Pakledinaz, who for two decades was among the most sought-after costume designers on Broadway, dies at age 58. Mr. Pakledinaz fabricated costumes for classics (Hedda Gabler, The Father, Hamlet, Summer and Smoke) and modern plays (Golden Child, Cellini), but was perhaps best known for his vibrant work on musicals like the 1999 Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate and Thoroughly Modern Millie, for which he won his two Tony Awards.

Today's Birthdays: Harry Von Tilzer 1872. Pamela Brown 1917. Ann Thomas 1920. Barbara Loden 1932. Jeffrey Tambor 1944. Kevin Bacon 1958. Billy Crudup 1968.

Watch highlights from the 2012 Broadway musical Nice Work If You Can Get It, featuring costumes by Martin Pakledinaz:

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