Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 26

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 26
Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's musical Company opens on Broadway in 1970.
Dean Jones and the cast of Company.
Dean Jones and the cast of Company. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1926 Sex. It's a comedy. Mae West plays a Canadian woman with no time for those mounties; it's the British navy for her. It runs through one season, but the following it is raided as immoral. The cast is arrested and West, who also co-produced, is sentenced to 10 days in jail and is fined $500. A well-received Off-Off-Broadway revival in 2000 proved that the show still had laughs and a unique social point of view.

1967 Betty Comden and Adolph Green supply the lyrics to Jule Styne's music for Hallelujah, Baby! Leslie Uggams makes her Broadway debut as a woman who never grows old. Arthur Laurents penned the book. Burt Shevelove stages the 293 performances. It wins five Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Musical for Uggams, and Best Musical.

1970 There's a book by George Furth, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Harold Prince helming, Michael Bennett on hand to choreograph, and Elaine Stritch in the lead; who wouldn't want to be in that Company? There are 705 performances at Broadway's Alvin Theatre. The production is nominated for 14 Tony Awards, and wins six, including Best Musical.

1970 Actor and author Gypsy Rose Lee, 56, dies in Los Angeles. She was immortalized along with her mother and sister, June Havoc, in the musical Gypsy. Arthur Laurents based the book for the musical on her memoir.

1992 The music and life of jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton comes to life on stage as Jelly's Last Jam opens at Broadway's Virginia Theatre. Savion Glover and Gregory Hines share the title role at different ages. George C. Wolfe directs the production he wrote the book for.

1995 Manhattan Theatre Club's production of Richard Greenberg's Night and Her Stars opens Off-Broadway at the American Place Theatre. David Warren directs a cast that includes Patrick Breen, Keith Charles, Peter Frechette, and John Slattery. The show follows the scandals of the late 1950s quiz show scandal.

2001 Ken Ludwig and Don Schlitz's musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, based on the Mark Twain novel, opens on Broadway. Unlike the Tony-winning Huckleberry Finn-based Big River, the new musical is treated by critics like a dead cat on a string, and lasts less than two weeks. The production stars Joshua Park as Tom Sawyer, Jim Poulos as Huckleberry Finn, and Kristen Bell as Becky Thatcher. Making her Broadway debut in the supporting role of Sabina Temple is future Tony Award winner Nikki M. James.

2003 Peter Stone, the Tony Award-winning librettist who wrote the books of the Broadway musicals Titanic, My One and Only, Sugar, The Will Rogers Follies, and 1776, dies at a Manhattan hospital.

2004 Rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs makes his Broadway debut in a revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. He plays Walter Lee Younger, the role originated by Sidney Poitier in the 1959 Broadway original. His co-stars are Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald, both of whom win Tony Awards for their performances.

2009 Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway production of Christopher Hampton's 1970 comedy, The Philanthropist, directed by Tony Award nominee David Grindley and starring Tony winner Matthew Broderick, opens at the American Airlines Theatre.

2010 The first Broadway revival of Fences, the 1987 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by August Wilson, opens at the Cort Theatre. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis both win Tony Awards for their performances in the drama about a former Negro League baseball player who now struggles as a garbage man. Washington and Davis both repeat their performances in the 2016 film adaptation, directed by Washington.

2012 Roundabout Theatre Company opens a revival of Marc Camoletti's 1960-set sex farce Don't Dress for Dinnera sort of sequel to Boeing-Boeing, featuring the same randy male characters, Robert, and Bernard—at Broadway's American Airlines Theatre. Ben Daniels, Patricia Kalember, David Aron Damane, Adam James, Jennifer Tilly, and Spencer Kayden star under John Tillinger's direction.

2012 Leap of Faith—a musical based on the 1992 film about a con-man preacher who blows into a depressed, drought-plagued Kansas town—opens on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. Featuring a gospel and country score by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the production stars Raúl Esparza as preacher Jonas Nightingale. Despite receiving a Tony nomination for Best Musical, poor ticket sales force the show to close after only 19 performances.

2016 Tuck Everlasting, the musical based on Natalie Babbitt's best-selling 1975 novel about a love that could live literally forever, opens on Broadway. Claudia Shear and Tim Federle write the book, Chris Miller the music, and Nathan Tysen the lyrics. The cast includes Carolee Carmello, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and Terrence Mann. It runs 39 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

2017 Laura Osnes and Corey Cott star in Bandstand, opening on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The musical, directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, uses an original swing score by Rob Taylor and Richard Oberacker to tell the story of Donny Novitski (Cott), who assembles a band of fellow WWII veterans to enter a national radio contest searching for the next big band sensation. It runs 166 performances.

Today's Birthdays: Anita Loos 1888. Bambi Linn 1926. Carol Burnett 1933. Howard Davies 1945. Eugene Fleming 1961.

Watch highlights from the 2012 Broadway production of Leap of Faith, starring Raúl Esparza:

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