1940 Birthday of playwright David Rabe, who will chronicle Vietnam-era angst in Streamers and The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, and will come back in the 1980s with a searing vision of Hollywood's periphery in Hurlyburly.
1953 A revival of the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess opens a 305-performance run at the Ziegfeld Theatre that outlasts the 1935 original. The revival stars Irving Barnes, Urylee Leonardos and Cab Calloway.
1954 A posthumous revival of Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera proves to be his biggest hit. The Theatre de Lys revival, translated by Marc Blitzstein and directed by Carmen Capalbo, initially runs for 96 performances. Due to popular demand, the production returns to the same theatre the following year, and runs for seven years, becoming Off-Broadway's longest running show (a record eventually surpassed by The Fantasticks). Stars of this production include Bea Arthur, Lotte Lenya, Scott Merrill, Jo Sullivan, John Astin and Charlotte Rae.
1959 Sweet Bird of Youth plays at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York. Geraldine Page stars as an aging actress with Paul Newman as her paid escort. Rip Torn, Diana Hyland, and Sidney Blackmer are also in the cast. This Tennessee Williams drama will play for 375 performances. Elia Kazan stages.
1975 Critics and audiences don't know what to make of Richard O'Brien's London import, a bizarre science-fiction musical called The Rocky Horror Show. It opens today and runs just 45 performances at the Belasco Theatre. Stars Tim Curry, Meat Loaf, and O'Brien also star in the film version, which will become one of the all-time successful cult classics.
1999 Richard Chamberlain and Laura Benanti join the cast of The Sound of Music revival today to become the new Captain Von Trapp and Maria Rainer, following Michael Siberry and Rebecca Luker. They will close out the production as it ends June 20 after 533 performances.
2000 Tony-nominated composer-lyricist Michael John LaChiusa begins performances of his Broadway musical, The Wild Party, at the Virginia Theatre, starring Toni Collette, Mandy Patinkin and Eartha Kitt. Coincidentally, it is the second New York musical of this season to be based on that 1928 poem by Joseph Moncure March. Off-Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club staged composer-lyricist-librettist Andrew Lippa's version with the same title.
2002 Edward Albee's controversial drama The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? opens on Broadway. The story of a man who destroys his marriage and life when he falls in love with a goat goes on to win the 2003 Tony Award as Best Play.
2002 Also today, Irene Worth, the Nebraska-born actress who played legendary roles in London, Broadway and the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, dies at age 85.
2003 In an attempt to settle a three-day-old strike by musicians that has shut down Broadway musicals, Mayor Michael Bloomberg hosts Jed Bernstein of the League of American Theatres and Producers and Bill Moriarity of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians in an evening bargaining session that will continue through the night.