PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: JULY 8
By Robert Viagas
1913 Birthday of theatre critic Walter Kerr (1913-1996), namesake of Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre. In addition to his career as a reviewer, which took him from the New York Herald-Tribune to The New York Times and a 1978 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, he also directed or wrote book and/or lyrics for five Broadway shows, including Goldilocks. His wife, playwright Jean Kerr, based her book and film Please Don't Eat the Daisies on their life together in suburban Larchmont, NY.
1967 Stage and film legend Vivien Leigh dies today at age 54. Winning an Academy Award for her star-making performance as Scarlett O'Hara in the film "Gone With the Wind," Leigh also starred as Blanche DuBois in the Laurence Olivier-directed London premiere of A Streetcar Named Desire, a role she repeated on film. Among her other stage credits was the 1963 musical version of Tovarich.
1980 Twenty years after he was crowned King Arthur to Julie Andrews' Guenevere, Richard Burton takes on the role once more in the revival of Camelot. The musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe plays at Lincoln Center's New York State Theatre and co-stars Christine Ebersole as the Lady to Burton's King.
1982 A stage adaptation of the film musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers opens to withering reviews on Broadway. The cast pickets The New York Times, but to no avail. The production will close after just 5 performances. Featured in the cast are Debby Boone and David Carroll.
2000 Playwright Rob Ackerman's new play Tabletop that deals with the much ado'd business of television commercials begins performances tonight Off Off-Broadway. The Working Theatre presentation would receive critical and audience acceptance and earned an Off-Broadway run at the American Place Theatre.
2002 Harlem Song, George C. Wolfe's revue tracing the social and musical history of New York's Harlem neighborhood, opens at the legendary Apollo Theatre on 125th Street.
2002 Lore Noto, producer of Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks, dies at age 79, just six months after the musical ended its record 41-year run. Noto defied industry advice to close the show after lukewarm overnight reviews on May 3, 1960, and watched the little "Try to Remember" show blossom into phenomenon that became the longest-running musical ever. He helped the show's bottom line by appearing for some years in the role of the Boy's Father, Hucklebee.
2004 William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin collaborate on a new musical that has its debut at the Barrington Stage Company. Within a year The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will move to Off-Broadway, then to Broadway, where it will win Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler).
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