1973 In one of the greatest disasters in Off-Broadway history, the 1870-vintage Broadway Central Hotel at 240 Mercer Street collapses today, taking with it the honeycomb of eight OB and OOB theatre spaces known as the Mercer Arts Center. Among the shows left homeless by the collapse are the long-running One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Proposition and El Coca Cola Grande.
1977 Alfred Lunt dies today at age 84. One the most celebrated stage actors of his time, Lunt was best known for his many performances opposite wife and stage partner Lynn Fontanne. Together they appeared in productions of such plays as The Seagull, The Visit, Design for Living and I Know My Love. A theatre saluting the memory of the legendary pair stands on 46th Street near Broadway in New York City.
1978 Sammy Davis, Jr. makes his final Broadway appearance, playing Littlechap in a revival of the Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley musical Stop the World - I Want to Get Off. It runs 30 performances.
1998 For the first time since a Times Square construction accident shut down business July 21, the Off-Broadway musical Smoke On The Mountain performed. The production, first produced OB in 1990 at the Lamb's Theatre, returns to its home, this time on the upstairs mainstage. Connie Ray and Alan Bailey's musical starring Robert Olsen tells of a humble, religious family who make music for local church groups and socials.
2002 Avenue Q is presented as one of three in-development musicals at Eugene O’Neill Theater Center's Music Theater Conference in Connecticut. Within a year it will get an Off-Broadway production that will lead to a Broadway transfer and the Tony Award as Best Musical.
2013 The world premiere of Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman's musical The Bridges of Madison County opens at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Bartlett Sher directs the Broadway-bound production, starring Elena Shaddow as Francesca and Steven Pasquale. Kelli O'Hara will play Francesca when the production opens on Broadway in 2014, but is unable to do the tryout because she is pregnant.
More of Today's Birthdays: Francis Byrne 1876. A. Larry Haines 1918. Maria Karnilova 1920. Tony Bennett 1926. Martin Sheen 1940.