Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 17 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 17 Two recent Pulitzer Prize-winning dramas open on this day, in 2018 and 2019.
John Gallagher Jr. in Spring Awakening
John Gallagher Jr. in Spring Awakening Joan Marcus

1943 George Marion, Jr. and Thomas "Fats" Waller's Early to Bed opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre. A musical about a brothel in Martinique that claims to be a girls school as a cover, it runs for 380 performances.

1969 Oh! Calcutta! opens at the Eden Theatre in New York. The adult-oriented revue boasts a mostly-nude cast performing skits by the likes of John Lennon, Samuel Beckett, and Sam Shepard. While the production has a long and successful run, it is the 1976 revival that enters the history books as one of the longest-running musicals of all time, with 5,969 performances.

1972 Tradition is broken as Fiddler on the Roof becomes the longest-running Broadway production, its 3,225 performances allowing it to surpass the previous record set by Life With Father. The Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick-Joseph Stein musical, based on Sholem Aleichem stories of Tevye and His Daughters, had reportedly been playing at a loss for over a year in an attempt to break the long-run record and soon closes up shop.

1980 After playing 12 performances at Broadway's Morosco Theatre, Billy Bishop Goes to War transfers to Off-Broadway's Theatre de Lys. The musical, written and composed by John Gray in collaboration with Eric Peterson, was inspired by the book Winged Warfare, in which a young pilot named Billy Bishop recounts his service during World War I.

1999 Audiences attending the New York Shakespeare Festival's first preview of The Taming of the Shrew starring Allison Janney at Central Park's Delacorte Theater also enjoy its $4.35 million renovation. Changes include traps in the stage, re-built walkways under the seating for the actors, streamlined concession areas, new cedar siding, and new bleachers and seating.

2001 Measure for Measure, opens the Shakespeare in the Park season. Directed by Mary Zimmerman, it stars Billy Crudup, Sanaa Lathan, Joe Morton, and John Pankow.

2008 Tony nominee Michael Stuhlbarg stars in the title role of the Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet, which officially opens at the Delacorte Theater. Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis directs the production, which also boasts Sam Waterston as Polonius, Lauren Ambrose as Ophelia, Margaret Colin as Gertrude and Andre Braugher as Claudius.

2013 Carla Gugino and Peter Grosz star in the LCT3 production of Daniel Pearle's A Kid Like Jake, directed by Evan Cabnet, about a young boy with a passion for Cinderella and playing dress up

2015 The world premiere of On Your Feet!, the musical based on the lives of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, opens at Chicago's Oriental Theatre (now the James M. Nederlander Theatre). Ana Villafañe and Josh Segarra star. The production transfers to Broadway a few months later.

2018 The world premiere of Jackie Sibblies Drury's Fairview opens Off-Broadway at Soho Rep. Through the style of a naturalistic family drama, the play examines race in America, and the ways in which we watch and judge each other every day. It wins the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

2019 Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop makes its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons. The musical—with a book and score by Jackson—follows Usher, a Black, queer writer working a job he hates while writing his original musical: a piece about a Black, queer composer working a job he hates while writing his original musical. It wins the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

More of Today's Birthdays: Sammy Fain (1902–1989); Ralph Bellamy (1904–1991); Virginia Martin (1927–2009); Barry Manilow (b. 1943); Mark Linn-Baker (b. 1954); Phyllida Lloyd (b. 1957); Tracie Bennett (b. 1961); Georgia Stitt (b. 1972); John Gallagher Jr. (b. 1984).

More Today in Theatre History

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