Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 14

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 14
Patrick Page and Reeve Carney in <i>Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark.</i>
Patrick Page and Reeve Carney in Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark. Jacob Cohl

1929 Birthday of Broadway composer Cy Coleman, whose scores for shows like Sweet Charity, I Love My Wife, On the Twentieth Century, The Will Rogers Follies, The Life, and City of Angels show him to be equally adept with jazz, operetta, Big Band, country, and R&B.

1956 The revue New Faces of 1956 showcases the talents of future stars Maggie Smith, Jane Connell, Tiger Haynes, Virginia Martin, Bill McCutcheon, and Inga Swenson. The show offers sketches by Neil and Danny Simon, Paul Lynde, and Louis Botto, and songs by Marshall Barer and Ronny Graham, among others.

1969 After 97 preview performances, Jackie Mason and Mike Mortman's A Teaspoon Every Four Hours opens—and closes—on Broadway. The play's unusually long preview period gives it the record for the most previews of a Broadway show before its opening night. Its record is surpassed exactly 42 years later, by Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark.

1979 Flowers for Algernon, a new musical by Charles Strouse and David Rogers, opens at London's Queen's Theatre. Based on the novel by Daniel Keyes, the show stars a pre-Phantom Michael Crawford as mentally handicapped Charlie Gordon, the same role that won Cliff Robertson an Oscar for Charly, the film version of the novel. Cheryl Kennedy co-stars in the musical, which runs 28 performances and spawns an ill-fated Broadway production.

1979 Film star Al Pacino (already a household name thanks to the Godfather films and Dog Day Afternoon) returns to his Broadway roots in the title role of Richard III. The production of the Shakespearean tragedy, staged at the Cort Theatre, does not garner strong reviews for its leading man, whose persona is deemed unsuitable for the role.

1986 Lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner dies at the age of 67. With his long-time collaborator Frederick Loewe, he created such shows as Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Gigi.

1988 Director José Quintero helms a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre. Jason Robards stars as James Tyrone and Colleen Dewhurst as his wife Mary in the production that runs in repertory with another O'Neill play, Ah, Wilderness!

2002 Future Tony-winning musical Hairspray begins a triumphant tryout at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre.

2011 Following the longest preview period in Broadway history—performances began November 28, 2010—Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark officially opens at Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre. Over the course of its 182 previews, original director/librettist/designer Julie Taymor was replaced by creative consultant Philip Wm. McKinley and librettist Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who made changes to the musical during a monthlong hiatus in April/May 2011. Reeve Carney stars as the superhero with the powers of a spider in the show which cost a reported $75 million, by far the most expensive in Broadway history.

2012 A revival of Mary Chase's 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Harvey opens on Broadway at Studio 54. The Roundabout Theatre Company production stars Jim Parsons as Elwood P. Dowd, a man whose best friend is a 6-foot-tall rabbit.

More of Today's Birthdays: Burl Ives 1909. Dorothy McGuire 1916. Sam Wanamaker 1919. Gene Barry 1919. Antony Sher 1949. Jere Shea 1965. De'Adre Aziza 1977.

Watch highlights from Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark:

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