Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 8 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: July 8 In 1980, Richard Burton and Christine Ebersole star in a revival of Camelot.
Christine Ebersole and Richard Burton in Camelot. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1913 Birthday of theatre critic Walter Kerr, 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 six Broadway shows, including Goldilocks and Touch and Go. His wife, playwright Jean Kerr, based her book and film Please Don't Eat the Daisies on their life together in suburban Larchmont, New York.

1964 The Public Theater presents Shakespeare's Othello on the Delacorte stage as part of its Shakespeare in the Park (then known as New York Shakespeare Festival) season in Central Park. Directed by Gladys Vaughan, the first woman to helm a New York Shakespeare Festival production (Richard II in 1961), the production starred James Earl Jones in the title role, with Mitchell Ryan as Iago and Julienne Marie as Desdemona. Jones would go on to play the role of Othello again in a Broadway production in 1982, opposite Christopher Plummer as Iago and Dianne Wiest as Desdemona.

1969 The Public presents Gerald Freedman's adaptation of Peer Gynt, by Henrik Ibsen, at the Delacorte. The New York Shakespeare Festival production, helmed by Freedman, featured music by John Morris and Freedman, choreography by Joyce Trisler, and a cast that included Stacy Keach, Olympia Dukakis, Estelle Parsons, and Judy Collins.

1980 Twenty years after he was crowned King Arthur to Julie Andrews' Guenevere, Richard Burton takes on the role once more in a revival of Camelot. The musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe plays at Lincoln Center's New York State Theater 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 closes after just five performances. Featured in the cast are Debby Boone and David Carroll.

1991 Second Stage Theater presents Kevin Kling's monologue play Home and Away at the Ginn-Cazale Theatre, directed by David Esbjornson.

2000 Playwright Rob Ackerman's new play Tabletop that deals with the much ado'd business of television commercials begins performances Off-Off-Broadway. The Working Theatre presentation receives critical and audience acceptance and later transfers to 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.

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 moves to Off-Broadway, then to Broadway, where it wins Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler).

2020 In a pivot to digital due to the pandemic, The Public Theater streams the world premiere of The Line. Co-written by Coal Country writers Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, the play is based on the first-person accounts of New York City’s first responders during the COVID-19 crisis.

More of Today's Birthdays: Harry Von Tilzer (1872–1946). Pamela Brown (1917–1975). Ann Thomas (1920–1989). Barbara Loden (1932–1980). Alison Fraser (b. 1955). Kevin Bacon (b. 1958). Billy Crudup (b. 1968).

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