PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: AUGUST 24

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and Ernio Hernandez and Doug Nevinand
24 Aug 2014

1985 Morrie Ryskind dies in his home in Washington, DC. The playwright who collaborated with George S. Kaufman, Ira Gershwin, and George Gershwin on three musicals, Strike Up the Band, Let 'Em Eat Cake and Of Thee I Sing. The latter garnered Ryskind and cohorts the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He was 89 years old at the time of his death.

1986 A revival of The Royal Shakespeare Company's acclaimed 8 1/2-hour production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre. Once again directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, the play fails to catch on with audiences this time around, and closes a month earlier than originally planned, after 29 performances.

1988 Stage and film actor Leonard Frey, who appeared in the original production of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, dies today of AIDS. Frey also appeared as Mendel, the Rabbi's son, in the original 1964 production of Fiddler on the Roof, and received an Oscar nomination for his performance as Motel, the tailor, in the 1971 film version.

2008 The Phantom of the Opera puts down his mask for four performances starting today at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway while technicians invade his lair and upgrade the sound system. Producers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh take the unusual step of temporarily closing down the longest-running show in Broadway history "to bring the production's sound design technology into the 21st century."

2013 Julie Harris, a towering figure of the American theatre in the decades following World War II, who created several iconic stage roles — collecting five Tony Awards along the way — dies at age 87. Her Tony wins were for John Van Druten's I Am a Camera, in which she was the first actress to create Christopher Isherwood's Sally Bowles on stage; The Lark, Jean Anouilh's rendition of the Joan of Arc story; the romantic comedy Forty Carats; The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, in which she played the title role; and The Belle of Amherst, where she portrayed poet Emily Dickinson.



Today's Birthdays: James William Wallack 1795. Max Beerbohm 1872. Frank Craven 1881. Nedda Harrigan Logan 1899. Durward Kirby 1912. Stephen Fry 1957. Jessica Boevers 1972.