Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 11

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 11
Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno in The Odd Couple.
Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno in The Odd Couple. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1955 American actor-manager Walter Hampden dies in Hollywood at age 75. In 1925 he leased the Colonial Theatre and played in revivals of Ibsen and Shakespeare. Cyrano de Bergerac was his most memorable role.

1974 The World of Lenny Bruce opens at the Players Theatre. Frank Spieser's solo play, in which he impersonates satirist Lenny Bruce, runs for 17 weeks.

1985 Neil Simon's The Odd Couple gets a revised and reversed revival at the Broadhurst Theatre. Gene Saks directs Rita Moreno as Olive Madison and Sally Struthers as Florence Unger in the play that was originally written for men. The production plays 295 performances before closing on February 23 of the following year.

2000 Tony takes its toll as two shows close one week following the Awards: Elaine May's Taller Than a Dwarf, which did not receive any Tony nominations, and Michael John LaChiusa's The Wild Party, which received seven noms, but zero wins.

2012 The world premiere of John Patrick Shanley's Bronx-set Storefront Church—the third play of his trilogy that began with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt—opens Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company's Linda Gross Theater. Directed by the playwright, the play tells the story of a Bronx borough President (Giancarlo Esposito) who is forced by the mortgage crisis into a confrontation with a local minister (Ron Cephas Jones).

2013 Two world premieres open Off-Broadway: the MCC Theater production of Neil LaBute's Reasons to Be Happy opens at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, and the Atlantic Theater Company production of John Guare's 3 Kinds of Exile opens at the Linda Gross Theater.

2014 Award-winning actor Ruby Dee, who originated the role of Ruth Younger in the Broadway premiere of A Raisin in the Sun, dies at the age of 91. Dee made her Broadway debut in 1943 in the play South Pacific and also starred on Broadway in Anna Lucasta, Jeb, A Long Way from Home, The Smile of the World, Purlie Victorious, and Checkmates.

2015 Ron Moody, the British actor who memorably played the lovable London crime lord Fagin in both the stage and film versions of the musical Oliver!, dies at age 91.

Today's Birthdays: Ben Jonson 1572. Richard Strauss 1864. Peter Foy 1925. Athol Fugard 1932. Gene Wilder 1933. Daniel Sullivan 1940. Adrienne Barbeau 1945. Matt McGrath 1969.

Watch highlights from Athol Fugard's The Road to Mecca, starring Rosemary Harris:

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