1979 Flowers for Algernon, a new musical by Charles Strouse and David Rogers, opens at London's Queen's Theatre. Based on the novel by Daniel Keyes, the show stars a pre-Phantom Michael Crawford as mentally handicapped Charlie Gordon, the same role that won Cliff Robertson an Oscar for "Charly," the film version of the novel. Cheryl Kennedy co-stars in the musical, which will run 28 performances and spawn an ill-fated Broadway production.
1979 Film star Al Pacino (already a household name thanks to the "Godfather" films and "Dog Day Afternoon") returns to his Broadway roots as the title role in Richard III. The production of the Shakespearean tragedy, staged at the Cort Theater, does not garner strong reviews for its leading man, whose persona is deemed unsuitable for the role.
1986 Alan Jay Lerner, lyricist and librettist of a number of musicals, dies today at the age of 67. Frederick Loewe, his long-time collaborator, and he produced such shows as Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Camelot and Gigi.
1988 Director Jose Quintero helms a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre. Jason Robards stars as James Tyrone and Colleen Dewhurst as his wife Mary in the production that runs in repertory with another O'Neill play, Ah, Wilderness!.
2002 Future Tony-winning musical Hairspray begins a triumphant tryout at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre.
2011 Following the longest preview period in Broadway history — performances began Nov. 28, 2010 — Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark officially opens at Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre. Over the course of its 182 previews, original director/librettist/designer Julie Taymor is replaced by creative consultant Philip Wm. McKinley and librettist Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who make changes to the musical during a monthlong hiatus in April/May 2011. Reeve Carney stars as the superhero with the powers of a spider in the show which cost a reported $75 million, by far the most expensive in Broadway history.
2012 A revival of Mary Chase's 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Harvey opens on Broadway at Studio 54. The Roundabout Theatre Company production stars Jim Parsons as Elwood P. Dowd, a man whose best friend is a 6-foot-tall rabbit.
More of Today's Birthdays: Burl Ives 1909. Dorothy McGuire 1916. Sam Wanamaker 1919. Gene Barry 1919. Jere Shea 1965.