Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 31

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 31
 
Avenue Q opens on Broadway in 2003.
John Tartaglia
John Tartaglia Carol Rosegg

1948 The original Broadway production of Brigadoon closes after 581 performances at the Ziegfeld Theatre. Written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Agnes de Mille won the 1947 Tony Award for Best Choreography for her work on the show—especially notable since the 1947 ceremony was the first Tonys in history. Brigadoon marks Lerner and Loewe’s third Broadway collaboration. The production stars David Brooks, Marion Bell, Pamela Britton, and Lee Sullivan and goes on to inspire the 1954 film starring Gene Kelly (which you can watch here). Separately, this date marked the closing of Strange Bedfellows, the play by Florence Ryerson (the last of hers to appear on Broadway) and Colin Clement.

1967 Judy Garland is At Home at The Palace for a four-week engagement at the famed theatre. Following a first act of vaudeville comic Jackie Vernon, soft-shoe and tap dancer John Bubbles, and juggler Francis Brunn, Garland performs a concert of signature songs including "The Man That Got Away," "Rockabye Your Baby," "Chicago," and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." During the performance, Garland also introduces "her proteges" Joey and Lorna Luft.

1969 Talk about a writer's revenge! Josef Bush, who adapted De Sade Illustrated at Off-Broadway's Bouwerie Theatre, wreaks havoc on the set, spreading white paint all over it. His reason: a nude scene he doesn't approve of has been added.

1979 Brenda Braxton, Cleavant Derricks, Reginald Vel Johnson, and Lynn Thigpen are among the denizens of Wonderland in But Never Jam Today, Vinnette Carroll and Bob Larimer's all-black adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic Alice in Wonderland. The production opens on this day in history. However, it runs a short eight regular performances at the Longacre Theatre.

1985 A revised version of the musical revue What's a Nice Country Like You...Doing in a State Like This? opens at Off-Broadway's Actors' Playhouse. Missy Baldino, Jane Brucker, Steve Mulch, Hugh Panaro, and Rob Resnick sing music by Cary Hoffman and lyrics by Ira Gasman. The show plays 252 performances before closing February 9.

2003 A musical in which puppets are the main characters? The PG-13-rated musical, Avenue Q, opens at the Golden Theatre, confounding skeptics with an eyebrow-raising run that brings it the 2004 Tony Award as Best Musical. It also marks the Broadway debut of now-double EGOT winner Bobby Lopez. It stays on Broadway for 2,534 performances before transferring to a commercial Off-Broadway run at New World Stages. The show is the first of its kind in the modern era to make the transfer from Broadway to Off-Broadway, leading the way for shows like Rock of Ages and Jersey Boys to do the same in the future.

2009 Sheryl Lee Ralph, Barbara Walsh, and Karen Ziemba sing new songs by the legendary team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland in the new musical The First Wives Club. Opening at The Old Globe in San Diego, California, the musical inspired by the novel and film of the same name is directed by Francesca Zambello, and features a libretto by Rupert Holmes.

2016 A Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical Cats opens at the Neil Simon Theatre. Chart-topping British pop star Leona Lewis plays the role of Grizabella the Glamour Cat—the role originally created in London by Elaine Paige and subsequently on Broadway by Betty Buckley. On this same date, Fully Committed starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson closes at the Lyceum Theatre. Written by Becky Mode, the show earned the Drama Desk for Oustanding Solo Performanc.

2019 Domenica Feraud's Rinse, Repeat officially opens July 31 at the Signature Theatre Off-Broadway. With the actor-playwright starring in the leading role of Rachel, the new play, directed by Kate Hopkins, traces a young woman's struggles with an eating disorder. The cast also features Florencia Lozano (One Life to Live) as Rachel's mother Joan, Jake Ryan Lozano (Mary Stuart) as Brody, Portia (Queen For a Day) as Brenda, and Michael Hayden (A View From The Bridge, When They See Us) as Peter.

Today's Birthdays: Vernel Bagneris (b. 1949), Eve Best (b. 1971), Geraldine Chaplin (b. 1944), Daniel Evans (b. 1973), Richard Griffiths (1947–2013), Don Murray (b. 1929), Peter Nichols (1927–2019), J.K. Rowling (b. 1965), Sab Shimono (b. 1943), Wesley Snipes (b. 1962).

Watch highlights from the 2016 Broadway revival of Cats:

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