Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 29
29 Jul 2015
1981 An ad in Variety today accuses theatre critic John Simon of being "racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, vicious, and derisive." Included in the ad/protest are excerpts from Simon's review of Richard III. Simon is quoted as writing in this review that an actress in the show "should never be cast as anything but an itinerant gefilte fish with a nervous condition." Three hundred artists, etc. have signed the protest, but none are prominent in the theatre industry at that time and, as the ad explains, many people wished to remain anonymous.
1983Raymond Massey dies today at age 86. Massey, a well-respected stage actor, scored his biggest success as the title character in Robert Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Massey, hailed at the time by critic Brooks Atkinson as performing "with an artless honesty that is completely overwhelming at the end," also appeared in the classic 1940 film version.
2000 Off-Off-Broadway reverses the Elizabethan tradition of casting all men including in females roles as the Queen's Company mounts an all-female Macbeth. The infamous Scottish Play will run its limited engagement at the Mint Space in midtown Manhattan.
2004 Ghosts of the McCarthy era and playwright Arthur Miller’s doomed marriage to movie star Marilyn Monroe haunt a major revival of Miller’s After the Fall at Roundabout Theatre Company. Peter Krause, Carla Gugino and Jessica Hecht star in the production, directed by Michael Mayer who wove together the best from various versions of Miller’s script. Miller accepts a standing ovation on the stage of the American Airlines Theatre opening night. It turns out to be Miller’s final Broadway curtain call, as he passes away less than five months later.
2008Luther Davis, a prolific writer who forged careers in film, television and theatre, and who won a Tony Award for his book to the musical Kismet, dies at age 91.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.