PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: APRIL 24
By David Gewirtzman
1905 Sir Henry Irving's production of The Merchant of Venice was to have opened the annual Shakespeare Festival at Stratford-upon-Avon. But Irving was taken ill and Frank Benson and his company presented their version instead.
1944 Helen Goes to Troy and on her way stops at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway. Jarmila Novotna is the Face in this version of Jacques Offenbach's La Belle Helene. Erich Wolfgang Korngold adapts the music for Gottfried Reinhardt and John Meehan, Jr.'s libretto. It will run for three months.
1977 Al Pacino stars in David Rabe's The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel. This revival, first mounted by the Theatre Company of Boston, will play on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre for more than 13 weeks.
1997 The new John Kander-Fred Ebb musical Steel Pier opens on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Following mixed reviews and a shut-out (from 11 nominations) at the Tony Awards, the show will close on June 28, playing only 33 previews and 76 regular performances. Featured in the cast of the show centering on marathon-dancing in The Depression of the 1930s were Karen Ziemba, Gregory Harrison, Daniel McDonald and Debra Monk.
2008 Hairspray librettists Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan fashion a musical from another John Waters film, Cry-Baby, set in the world of "Squares" and "Drapes" in 1950s Baltimore. Mark Brokaw directs a cast that includes James Snyder, Harriet Harris and Elizabeth Stanley, performing a score by Broadway newcomers Adam Schlesinger and David Javerbaum. The musical will play 45 previews and 68 performances at the Marquis Theatre.
2011 A revival of Born Yesterday, Garson Kanin's hit 1946 comedy about a rough-edged chorus girl named Billie Dawn, who refines herself in the context of a world of politics, greed and corruption, opens on Broadway at the Cort Theatre. Doug Hughes directs the production, which stars Nina Arianda, Jim Belushi and Robert Sean Leonard.
2012 A new generation of Broadway theatregoer gets exposed to the classic songs of composer George Gershwin and lyricist Ira Gershwin when the musical Nice Work If You Can Get It — which borrows the brothers' show tunes from the '20s and '30s — opens on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. Inspired by the Gershwins' 1926 musical Oh, Kay!, the production stars Kelli O'Hara as a bootlegger who falls for a tipsy playboy, played by Matthew Broderick.
2013 John Logan's I'll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers, a one-woman play starring Bette Midler, opens on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. Directed by Joe Mantello, the production casts Midler as legendary Hollywood agent Sue Mengers (1932-2011).
Today's Birthdays: Blanche Ring 1871. William Castle 1914. Cindy Adams 1930. Shirley MacLaine 1934. Barbra Streisand 1942. Eric Bogosian 1953. Aidan Gillen 1968.
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