Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 25

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 25
A scene from the West End world premiere of Roald Dahl&#39;s <i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory</i>, which starred Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka.
A scene from the West End world premiere of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which starred Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka. Helen Maybanks

1887 Birthday of legendary director George Abbott, whose long life (107 years) and colossal catalog (more than 110 Broadway shows, sometimes also as producer, writer, or even actor) remains unparalleled. Among his projects were the original productions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, On the Town, Wonderful Town, Once Upon a Mattress, Fiorello!, Damn Yankees, On Your Toes, The Pajama Game, Where's Charley, Pal Joey, and literally dozens more.

1952 Harold Rome's musical Wish You Were Here, set in the world of mountain summer resorts, opens a 598-performance run at the Imperial Theatre. Jack Cassidy, Larry Blyden, and Sheila Bond star, and Bond wins a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical. The show is memorable for featuring a swimming pool on stage.

1973 The Theater Development Fund TKTS booth opens for (discount) business at Broadway and 47th street. The booth proves a landmark of the New York theatre world by providing same-day tickets to audiences to many performances, both on Broadway and off, at discounted prices.

1979 After delaying the start of previews twice, and the opening night once, Got Tu Go Disco finally opens on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre. The musical about a disco-hating saleswoman who becomes the queen of her local dance club—at the time, the most expensive musical ever mounted on Broadway—closes a week later, after eight performances.

1980 Gus Weil's play, To Bury a Cousin, originally saw the stage in 1967. The play now receives an Off-Broadway revival at the Cherry Lane Theatre, where it is directed by Phillip Oesterman and features Harry Goz and Diane Tarleton.

1990 Robert Louis Stevenson is rocking and rolling Off-Broadway as his Jekyll and Hyde is turned into a rock musical, courtesy of composer Michael Skloff, with book and lyrics by the team of David Crane and Marta Kauffman. Seven years later, Frank Wildhorn tries his hand at the dual-personality drama on Broadway.

1991 Two couples find themselves celebrating the Fourth of July on Fire Island together when Terrence McNally's play Lips Together, Teeth Apart, opens at the Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center. The play stars Nathan Lane and Swoosie Kurtz, and Christine Baranski and Anthony Heald, as the two married pairs. Following a successful engagement, the production transfers to Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre for a commercial run in January 1992.

1998 Warren Leight's play Side Man opens at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Stage Right Auditorium as a last minute replacement production. Under the direction of Michael Mayer is a cast including Frank Wood, Wendy Makkena, and Robert Sella. Upon its closing at the Roundabout, the jazz-themed comedy drama takes up shop for an open-ended commercial run at Broadway's John Golden Theater, with movie star Christian Slater replacing Sella as the narrator, Clifford. Come June, the play, by now having been cited as a Pulitzer Prize finalist, wins Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Featured Actor for Wood, as the side man himself.

2001 Urinetown, which began life at the New York Fringe Festival, ends its run at a tiny Off-Broadway theatre en route to what seemed at the time a highly dubious transfer to Broadway. The show becomes a hit, wins Tony Awards for Best Book and Score, and runs 965 performances.

2004 Musical Theatre Works, the not-for-profit Off-Broadway company that created and developed new musicals for 21 years, announces that it has run out of money and will shutter immediately.

2009 A music-filled Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night, starring Raúl Esparza, Anne Hathaway, Audra McDonald, and Stark Sands, opens at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Directed by Daniel Sullivan, it features an original score by Brooklyn-based folk-rock band Hem.

2011 Alice Playten, who lent her quirky persona and comic voice to a memorable string of Broadway and Off-Broadway musical performances from the 1960s onward, dies at age 63. Her Broadway credits included the original productions of Gypsy, Oliver!, Hello, Dolly!, and Henry, Sweet Henry.

2011 Margaret Tyzack, a mainstay in the British theatre acting world for more than four decades, dies at age 79. Tyzack won two Laurence Olivier Awards: one for playing Martha in a revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and another for playing Mrs. St. Maugham in Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden. She also won a Tony Award for her performance as Lotte Schoen in Lettice and Lovage on Broadway.

2013 A new musical version of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, featuring a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, opens in London at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The production is directed by Sam Mendes, and stars Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka. A revised version of the musical, directed by Jack O'Brien and starring Christian Borle, opens on Broadway four years later.

More of Today's Birthdays: Charlotte Greenwood 1890. Peter Lind Hayes 1915. Sidney Lumet 1924. Mary Beth Peil 1940. Lee Wilkof 1951. John Benjamin Hickey 1963. Hunter Foster 1969. Annaleigh Ashford 1985.

Watch Annaleigh Ashford sing "Slide Some Oil to Me" from The Wiz at the 2015 Miscast gala:

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