Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: April 26

1926 Sex. It’s a comedy. Mae West plays a Canadian woman with no time for those mounties; it’s the British navy for her. It runs through one season, but the following it is raided as immoral. The cast is arrested and West, who also co-produced, is sentenced to 10 days in jail and is fined $500. A well-received Off-Off-Broadway revival in 2000 proved that the show still had laughs and a unique social point of view.

1967 Betty Comden and Adolph Green supply the lyrics to Jule Styne‘s music for Hallelujah, Baby! in which Leslie Uggams makes her Broadway debut as a woman who never grows old. Arthur Laurents pens the book with Burt Shevelove staging. It wins five Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Musical for Uggams, and Best Musical.

1970 There’s a book by George Furth, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Harold Prince helming, Michael Bennett on hand to choreograph, and Elaine Stritch in the lead; who wouldn’t want to be in that Company? The musical debuts at Broadway’s Alvin Theatre, and is nominated for 14 Tony Awards, and wins six, including Best Musical.

1973 Philip Bosco, Patricia Conolly, James Farentino, and Rosemary Harris star in a revival of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. The Ellis Rabb-directed production plays at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.

1987 Val May directs a revival of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the Plymouth Theatre, starring Amanda Plummer and Peter O’Toole.

1992 The music and life of jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton comes to life on stage as Jelly’s Last Jam opens at Broadway’s Virginia Theatre. Savion Glover and Gregory Hines share the title role at different ages. George C. Wolfe directs the production he wrote the book for.

1995 Manhattan Theatre Club‘s production of Richard Greenberg‘s Night and Her Stars opens Off-Broadway at the American Place Theatre. David Warren directs a cast that includes Patrick Breen, Keith Charles, Peter Frechette, and John Slattery. The show follows the scandals of the late 1950s quiz show scandal.

1997 The Life, Cy Coleman’s new musical about Times Square street life, opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Michael Blakemore directs with a cast including Sam Harris, Lillias White, Bellamy Young, and Chuck Cooper.

1998 Tony-winner Gerald Gutierrez directs another Tony-winner, Jane Alexander, in the Broadway premiere of Joanna Murray’s drama, Honour, at the Belasco Theatre.

1999 It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues moves from a sold-out run at Off-Broadway’s New Victory Theatre to a Broadway engagement at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. The show traces the history of the Blues genre from its African roots to contemporary recording artists, featuring songs like “Fever,” “Strange Fruit,” and “My Man Rocks Me.”

2001 Ken Ludwig and Don Schlitz‘s musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, based on the Mark Twain novel, opens on Broadway. The production stars Joshua Park as Tom Sawyer, Jim Poulos as Huckleberry Finn, and Kristen Bell as Becky Thatcher. Making her Broadway debut in the supporting role of Sabina Temple is future Tony Award winner Nikki M. James.

2004 Rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs makes his Broadway debut in a revival of Lorraine Hansberry‘s A Raisin in the Sun. He plays Walter Lee Younger, the role originated by Sidney Poitier in the 1959 Broadway original. His co-stars are Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald, both of whom win Tony Awards for their performances.

2005 32 years later to the day, another Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire opens at Studio 54. This time around, Natasha Richardson, John C. Reilly, Amy Ryan, and Chris Bauer take on Williams’ sultry quartet in a Roundabout Theatre Production helmed by Edward Hall.

2009 Roundabout Theatre Company‘s Broadway production of Christopher Hampton‘s 1970 comedy, The Philanthropist, directed by Tony Award nominee David Grindley and starring Tony winner Matthew Broderick, opens at the American Airlines Theatre.

2010 The first Broadway revival of Fences, the 1987 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by August Wilson, opens at the Cort Theatre. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis both win Tony Awards for their performances in the drama about a former Negro League baseball player who now struggles as a garbage man. Washington and Davis both repeat their performances in the 2016 film adaptation, directed by Washington.

2012 Roundabout Theatre Company opens a revival of Marc Camoletti‘s 1960-set sex farce Don’t Dress for Dinnera sort of sequel to Boeing-Boeing, featuring the same randy male characters, Robert and Bernard—at Broadway’s American Airlines Theatre. Ben Daniels, Patricia Kalember, David Aron Damane, Adam James, Jennifer Tilly, and Spencer Kayden star under John Tillinger‘s direction.

2012 Leap of Faith—a musical based on the 1992 film about a con-man preacher who blows into a depressed, drought-plagued Kansas town—opens on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. Featuring a gospel and country score by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the production stars Raúl Esparza as preacher Jonas Nightingale.

2016 Tuck Everlasting, the musical based on Natalie Babbitt‘s best-selling 1975 novel about a love that could live literally forever, opens on Broadway. Claudia Shear and Tim Federle write the book, Chris Miller the music, and Nathan Tysen the lyrics. The cast includes Carolee Carmello, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and Terrence Mann. It runs at the Broadhurst Theatre.

2017 Laura Osnes and Corey Cott star in Bandstand, opening on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The musical, directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, uses an original swing score by Rob Taylor and Richard Oberacker to tell the story of Donny Novitski (Cott), who assembles a band of fellow WWII veterans to enter a national radio contest searching for the next big band sensation.

2018 Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh returns to Broadway with the fourth Broadway production at the Jacobs Theastre. Directed by George C. Wolfe, the cast features Denzel Washington, Colm Meaney, David Morse, Bill Irwin, and Tammy Blanchard.

Today’s Birthdays: Anita Loos (1888-1981), Robert Downing (1914-1975), Russell Nype (1920-2018), Mike Kellin (1922-1983), Bambi Linn (b. 1926), Carol Burnett (b. 1933), Conrad Susa (1935-2013), Howard Davies (1945-2016), Giancarlo Esposito (b. 1958), Eugene Fleming (b. 1961), Arianne Phillips (b. 1963), Pablo Schreiber (b. 1978)

Watch highlights from the 2012 Broadway production of Leap of Faith, starring Raúl Esparza: