By David Gewirtzman
and Anne Bradley and Robert Viagas
11 May 2014
1920 American author, critic and playwright William Dean Howells dies today in New York City. In his criticism he championed the work of James A. Herne and Clyde Fitch. His plays include Yorick's Love, The Garroters and The Mouse Trap (not to be confused with Agatha Christie's play of the same name). He was 83 years old.
1938 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart contribute music and lyrics for I Married an Angel at the Shubert Theater on Broadway. George Balanchine choreographs this story of a banker who looks for Ms. Right from above. Dennis King and Vera Zorina are featured for this 42-week run.
1959 Carol Burnett begins the path to her Broadway debut as Once Upon a Mattress premieres Off-Broadway at the Phoenix Theatre. George Abbott directs, and Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer provide the songs. Following a six month run at the Phoenix, the production will transfer to Broadway's Alvin Theatre, earning Tony nominations for Burnett's performance and for Best Musical.
2005 West End opening night for smash musical Billy Elliot. With a score by Elton John, the production will go on to win four Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical.
2010 Doris Eaton Travis, the former Ziegfeld Follies dancer who inspired 21st century audiences with her pluck, good will — and fancy footwork — at 12 of 13 annual Easter Bonnet Competition performances for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, dies at age 106.
2012 Paul Gross heads the cast of the world premiere of John Guare's Are You There, McPhee? at the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey. Sam Buntrock directs the play about a playwright who is sucked into the tangle of the lives of a pair of abandoned children.