Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 13

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 13
 
The Secret Life of Bees opened Off-Broadway in 2019.
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Saycon Sengbloh, Nathaniel Stampley, Eisa Davis, Anastacia McCleskey, and LaChanze in The Secret Life of Bees. Ahron R. Foster

1956 Following a rocky out-of-town tryout, during which its director and two of its stars were replaced, the musical Shangri-La opens on Broadway. 42nd Street composer Harry Warren provides the score for the show based on James Hilton's Lost Horizon. Dennis King and Shirley Yamaguchi star, and the supporting cast includes Jack Cassidy, Alice Ghostley, Harold Lang, and Carol Lawrence. It runs 21 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre.

1963 Stage actor Howard Da Silva finds himself at the other end of the spectrum: as director of a Lewis John Carlino double bill. Shelley Winters and Jack Warden star in the two one acts, Snowangel and Epiphany. The production runs 22 weeks Off-Broadway at the York Playhouse.

1966 Audiences can't help but laugh as The Kitchen opens at the 81st Street Theater in New York. The raucous comedy, set in the kitchen of a popular restaurant at dinner time, features Rip Torn, Constance Clarke, and Sylvia Miles. After opening night, dinner continues to be prepared on stage for 136 more performances.

1979 Phyllis Newman is a successful actor seeking to balance her career with her life as a wife and mother in the semi-autobiographical musical comedy The Madwoman of Central Park West. Directed and co-written by Arthur Laurents, it runs 85 performances at the 22 Steps Theater.

1990 Actor Charles Grodin knows the Price of Fame as his show opens Off-Broadway. The Roundabout Theatre Company production features Grodin, Lizbeth MacKay, Jace Alexander, Joseph R. Sicari, and Michael Ingram, under the direction of Gloria Muzio.

2001 Five years after the untimely death of its composer, the world premiere of tick, tick...BOOM!, the autobiographical musical by Rent author Jonathan Larson, opens Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theatre. Raúl Esparza stars as Jonathan, opposite Amy Spanger and Jerry Dixon.

2002 The Phantom of the Opera plays its 6,000th performance on Broadway.

2002 Daphne Rubin-Vega, Debbie Grabitte, Robert Ari, and Keith Nobbs star in Free to Be You and Me at Drama Dept. Off-Broadway. Douglas Carter Beane’s play is based on the popular album of the same name by Marlo Thomas.

2004: The world premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine opens at Playwrights Horizons. The play follows a Black woman after she’s forced to leave her big job in the city and return to Brooklyn to live with her family.

2006: The circle of life continues on Broadway when The Lion King re-opens in its new home, The Minskoff Theatre. The Tony-winning musical had played at the New Amsterdam Theatre since opening in 1997 but moved to make way for the arrival of Mary Poppins.

2013: Leslie Odom Jr., Haaz Sleiman, and Jennifer Damiano star in the New York premiere of Venice at The Public Theater. The rock-meets-hip-hop musical from Eric Rosen and Max Sax explores morality, corruption, and power.

2017: All hail the new Prince Ali! Broadway alum Telly Leung steps into the role of Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

2017 Donna Murphy returns to Broadway in Hello, Dolly! Murphy plays the title role on Tuesday nights in the Tony Award-winning revival, which stars Bette Midler the other seven performances in the week.

2017: Betsy Wolfe starts mixing sugar, flour, and butter on stage as she steps into the role of Jenna in Waitress.

2018: David Friedman and Peter Kellogg’s Desperate Measures opens at New World Stages, starring Lauren Molin, Conor Ryan, and more. The musical comedy is inspired by Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.

2019 The Secret Life of Bees opens Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theatre Company. The world-premiere musical—with a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, music by Tony winner Duncan Sheik, and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead—story follows the journey of Rosaleen, a Black caregiver in 1960s South Caroliona who is beaten and jailed for asserting her right to vote, and the young Lily, a restless teenager haunted by her mother's death. Sam Giold directs a cast that includes Tony nominee Saycon Sengbloh, Elizabeth Teeter, Tony winner LaChanze (The Color Purple), Eisa Davis, and Anastacia McCleskey, as well as Tony nominee Manoel Felciano and Brett Gray.

Today's Birthdays: Jean Adair (1873–1953). Basil Rathbone (1892–1967). Mary Wickes (1910–1955). Bernard B. Jacobs (1916–1996). Rex Everhart (1920–2000). Paul Lynde (1926–1982). Joy Franz (b. 1941). Richard Thomas (b. 1951).

Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., and Karen Olivo rehearse for the 2014 Encores! Off-Center production of tick, tick...BOOM!:

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