Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 4 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 4 In 1971, Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's Follies makes its Broadway debut.
Alexis Smith, John McMartin, Dorothy Collins, and Gene Nelson in Follies

1921 Sarah Bernhardt, who recently had one leg amputated, comes to London to play the title role in Louis Verneuil's Daniel at the Prince's Theatre. When she found a wooden leg unwieldy, she designed a litter chair for herself and was carried around the stage. Of course, she needed no help balancing herself on one leg for the curtain calls.

1944 Philanthropist Irene Lewisohn dies in New York City. She and her sister Alice Lewisohn built and endowed the Neighborhood Playhouse. With Aline Bernstein she founded the Museum of Costume Art on Fifth Avenue in 1937.

1949 Herman Wouk's The Traitor receives just 67 performances at the 48th Street Theatre in New York. Walter Hampden and Jean Hagen are in the cast of the story of an American scientist who believes he can prevent war by passing atomic secrets to the Russians so the race for the bomb will be a stalemate. Jed Harris stages.

1964 Anyone Can Whistle—but this tune carries just nine performances at Broadway's Majestic Theatre. Stephen Sondheim composes the songs and Arthur Laurents the story of a mayoress who tries to revive her town with a fake miracle. Angela Lansbury, Lee Remick, and Harry Guardino star.

1971 The "Broadway Baby" is pounding 42nd St... well a few blocks away actually, at the Winter Garden Theatre as Follies opens. The Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical about Ziegfeld-era performers is co-directed by Michael Bennett and Harold Prince and stars Alexis Smith, Gene Nelson, Dorothy Collins, and John McMartin. It wins seven Tony Awards, and runs 522 performances.

2000 Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, starring Sir Derek Jacobi, begins previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The Roundabout Theatre Company production, co-starring Roger Rees, Brian Murray, and Laura Linney, opens April 30 and runs through June 11.

2001 42nd Street comes home to 42nd Street when previews begin for an opulent new Broadway revival of the backstage musical at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The production wins the 2001 Tony as Best Revival of a Musical, and runs 1,524 performances.

2001 Teen idol Aaron Carter joins the cast of the struggling Broadway musical Seussical and, for a while, buoys the box office.

2002 A Broadway adaptation of the film The Graduate opens at the Plymouth Theatre, and earns headlines for a nude scene featuring Hollywood star Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson.

2010 A revival of Lend Me a Tenor, Ken Ludwig’s farce about the backstage chaos that erupts at an Ohio opera house when the star tenor fails to show up for an all-important benefit gala, opens at the Music Box Theatre. Directed by Stanley Tucci, the cast includes Anthony LaPaglia, Tony Shalhoub, Jan Maxwell, Mary Catherine Garrison, and Jennifer Laura Thompson.

2013 Billy Porter stars as an indefatigable drag performer whose broken heel helps mend a broken wing for a foundering shoe-maker, played by Stark Sands, in the musical Kinky Boots, opening on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Based on the 2005 film of the same title, the musical has a book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. The production wins six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

2016 Glenn Close is ready for another close-up as she reprises her Tony-winning performance as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard for the first time in London. Lonny Price directs the semi-staged production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1993 musical at the London Coliseum. The production transfers to Broadway the following year.

2018 Glenda Jackson reprises her Olivier Award-winning performance as the title character in King Lear in an all-new production at the Cort Theatre, helmed by Sam Gold. Co-starring are Jayne Houdyshell, Ruth Wilson (who earned a Tony Award nomination), Elizabeth Marvel, Aisling O'Sullivan, Pedro Pascal, and John Douglas Thompson. The production runs 76 performances

Today's Birthdays: Robert E. Sherwood (1896-1995). Jerome Weidman (1913-1998). Elizabeth Wilson (1921-2015). Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004). Juliette Koka (1930-2011). Tony Perkins (1932-1992). Walter Charles (b. 1945). Christine Lahti (b. 1950). Laurie Beechman (1953-1998). David Pittu (b. 1967). Todrick Hall (b. 1985).

Look Back at the Original Broadway Cast of Kinky Boots

More Today in Theatre History

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