Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: May 17

1907 The new Hippodrome Theatre opens in Portsmouth, England.

1920 Composer-lyricist Bob Merrill is born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He writes Take Me Along, New Girl in Town, and Carnival!, as well as the timeless lyrics to Funny Girl with Jule Styne.

1937 In protest of cuts in the Federal Theatre budget, the Federal Theatre Project’s Dance Unit—currently performing a double-bill of Candide and How Long Brethern—urges the audience to join them in a sit-down strike. The audience acquiesces.

1956 Peter Ustinov writes and is featured in Romanoff and Juliet. The comedy plays London’s Piccadilly Theatre for 47 weeks.

1971 Stephen Schwartz‘s musical Godspell opens Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Three months later, it moves to the Promenade Theatre. All told, the show, which stars Lamar Alford as the up-to-date son of God, plays 2,124 performances. Godspell makes its Broadway debut in 1976.

2012 A West End production of Neil Simon‘s 1972 comedy The Sunshine Boys, starring Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths, opens at London’s Savoy Theatre. Thea Sharrock directs the play about two vaudeville stars who reunite after not having spoken in years.

2016 The New York premiere of Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman‘s Indecent opens Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre. The play with music is inspired by the real-life controversy surrounding the 1923 Broadway production of Sholem Asch‘s God of Vengeance. The production transfers to Broadway the following year.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Elliot Norton (1903-2003), John Patrick (1905-1995), Maureen O’Sullivan (1911-1998), Howard Ashman (1950-1991), Kevin Ligon (b. 19610

Watch highlights from Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman’s Indecent: