PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: APRIL 23
By David Gewirtzman
1564 Okay, no one's actually certain that April 23, 1564 was William Shakespeare's birthday, but that's the accepted date. Over the next 52 years, the Bard would pen such works as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Comedy of Errors, Othello, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar.
1935 A Kind Lady finds herself held hostage by the young man she's befriended. Edward Chodorov adapts Hugh Walpole's novel. Grace George and Henry Daniell star. There will be 82 performances at the Booth Theatre on Broadway.
1952 Alec Guinness plays an ant scientist who lives in an anthill Under the Sycamore Tree. Diana Churchill is his ant queen. Peter Glenville directs Sam Spewack's comedy at the Aldwych Theatre in London.
1959 Andy Griffith plays a gentle sheriff and Dolores Gray is the dancehall girl who falls in love with him in Destry Rides Again. Michael Kidd directs and choreographs the 472 showings at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. Harold Rome provides the score.
1964 James Baldwin's Blues For Mister Charlie, about a northern black murdered by a white southern shopkeeper, is staged at ANTA by Burgess Meredith. Rip Torn and Al Freeman, Jr. are in the cast. It will run for 148 performances.
1997 Iceberg! Maury Yeston and Peter Stone's new musical Titanic opens on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The show, about the infamous night in April 1912 aboard the supposedly unsinkable liner, sails on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical and stays afloat for 804 performances before closing Mar 28, 1999.
1998 Martin McDonagh's hit Off-Broadway drama, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, about an elderly woman who tries to spoil her homely 40-year-old daughter's first (and possibly last) chance for romance opens at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre. The production will earn Garry Hynes the first Tony Award ever given to a woman for Best Director. (Moments later, Julie Taymor will take home the second female directorial Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical for The Lion King.)
2006 Susan Browning, 65, the two-time Tony Award nominated actress who created the role of April in the original Company dies after a brief illness.
2007 Michael Smuin, 68, the founder and artistic director of the Smuin Ballet who won a Tony Award for choreographing the hit 1987 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, dies of an apparent heart attack in San Francisco.
2009 A middle class English weekend gets complicated — in triplicate — by a randy Brit named Norman in the new Broadway production of Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests, which opens at Circle in the Square. Matthew Warchus directs the trio of comedies playing in repertory, in a production previously seen at London's Old Vic in 2008.
2012 The Lyons, Nicky Silver's darkly comic dysfunctional-family play starring Linda Lavin, opens on Broadway at the Cort Theatre. The play, marking the Broadway debut of playwright Silver, premiered Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in 2011.
2012 Ghost The Musical, the pop musical based on the Academy Award-winning 1990 film about a romance that reaches into the afterlife, opens on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin adapted his Oscar-winning screenplay for the musical, which has music and lyrics by Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics) and Glen Ballard.
2013 Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful returns to the theatre where it premiered 60 years earlier, as a revival of the drama opens on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre (formerly known as Henry Miller's Theatre). Directed by Michael Wilson, the production stars Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Vanessa Williams. Tyson will win a Tony Award for her performance.
More of Today's Birthdays: David Birney 1939. Blair Brown 1947.
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