Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 27

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 27
Vanessa Williams in Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Vanessa Williams in Kiss of the Spider Woman. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1888 Birthday of Antoinette Perry (1888-1946), an actor and groundbreaking stage director who helps found the American Theatre Wing. In gratitude, the Wing names its annual theatre awards after her, now known by their nickname, The Tony Awards.

1944 Ten Little Indians, Agatha Christie's adaptation of her novel And Then There Were None, opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre. The play about 10 people called to an isolated mansion where they are told they must pay for the crimes they have committed, runs for 426 performances.

1970 Tom Eyen's The Dirtiest Show in Town opens Off-Broadway at the Astor Place Theatre. Bare flesh and simulated sex run rampant in the show that plays 509 performances.

1982 Jay Broad, John R. Briggs, and Harry Manfredini's country-western musical Play Me a Country Song opens—and closes—at the Virginia Theatre. The production marks the Broadway debut of actor Karen Mason.

1993 Americans discover a benign Indian elephant God in Terrence McNally's play A Perfect Ganesh, opening at Manhattan Theatre Club. Among the cast of discoverers are Zoe Caldwell, Frances Sternhagen, and Fisher Stevens.

1994 Former Miss America Vanessa Williams makes her Broadway debut when she replaces Tony Award winner Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman. With weekly box office attendance floating around the 70 percent mark, Williams' entrance brings a much-needed boost to the show's box office business. By August, the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical finds itself playing to standing room audiences on many nights.

1999 Al Pacino reprises his Broadway role in Eugene O'Neill's Hughie at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum. He directs the production and stars in it, as he did in 1996 at the Circle in the Square. As he did in the Broadway production, Paul Benedict plays opposite Pacino.

More of Today's Birthdays: John Golden 1874. Reginald Mason 1875. I.A.L. Diamond 1920. Michael Mayer 1960. Michael Ball 1962.

Watch highlights from the 2010 Broadway production of American Idiot, directed by Michael Mayer:

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