Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 28

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 28
In 2000, John Ortiz opens in Stephen Adly Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the A Train for the LAByrinth Theater Company.
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven_Atlantic Theater Company_Opening Night_2019_John Ortiz_HR.jpg
John Ortiz Lia Chang

1920 Two of Broadway's greatest songwriting talents make their Main Stem debuts: lyricst Lorenz Hart, age 25, and composer Richard Rodgers, age 18, open their first musical, Poor Little Ritz Girl, at the Central Theatre. The pair had missed the show's out-of-town tryout, and were surprised to discover at the New York opening that producer Lew Fields cut half their score, and inserted new songs by Alex Gerber and Sigmund Romberg.

1998 An Evening With Jerry Herman opens at Broadway's Booth Theatre. Featuring the composer himself, along with Florence Lacey and Lee Roy Reams, the musical revue highlights some of Herman's greatest songs from his musicals, from shows that were hits (Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles) and those that weren't (Mack & Mabel and Dear World). After failing to find an audience during the slow summer months, however, the show is forced to close in late August, about a month earlier than originally announced.

1999 Second Stage Theatre presents Cheryl L. West's Jar the Floor at its new Eighth Avenue space. The cast of the play about four generations of African-American women features Regina Taylor, Irma P. Hall, and Lynne Thigpen. Marion McClinton directs the Off-Broadway production.

2000 Jesus Hopped the A Train by Stephen Adly Guirgis opens at Off-Off-Broadway's Center Stage. The LAByrinth Theater Company's production starring John Ortiz alongside David Zayas, Elizabeth Canavan, Sal Inzerillo, and Ron Cephas Jones is helmed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, fresh from his stint in Broadway's True West. The "prison/court room/comic drama" transfers to Off-Broadway's East 13th Street Theatre later that year.

2005 Seaside Music Theater in Daytona Beach, Florida, presents the first major professional U.S. production of Moby Dick! The Musical. Cameron Mackintosh originally produced the quirky show—in which students at a girls' school put on a benefit musical based on the Herman Melville novel—in London's West End in 1993. The show is by Robert Longden and Hereward Kaye.

2012 The world premiere of All the Way, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan's dramatization of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s first year in office, opens at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The cast includes Jack Willis as LBJ, Kenajuan Bentley as Martin Luther King Jr., and Peter Frechette as Sen. Hubert Humphrey. The play opens on Broadway in 2014, with Bryan Cranston in the lead role, winning Tony Awards for both Best Play and Actor in a Play.

Today's Birthdays: Joe E. Brown (1892-1973). Rudy Vallee (1901-1986). Darryl Hickman (b. 1931). Jacques d'Amboise (b. 1934). Sally Struthers (b. 1947). Georgia Engel (1948-2019). Michael Hayden (b. 1963). Stephen Lynch (b. 1971). John Michael Hill (b. 1985).

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