1887 Birthday of legendary director George Abbott, whose long life (107 years) and colossal catalog (more than 110 Broadway shows, sometimes also as producer, writer, or even actor) remains unparalleled. Among his projects were the original productions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, On the Town, Wonderful Town, Once Upon a Mattress, Fiorello!, Damn Yankees, On Your Toes, The Pajama Game, Where’s Charley, Pal Joey, and literally dozens more.
1952 Harold Rome‘s musical Wish You Were Here, set in the world of mountain summer resorts, opens a 598-performance run at the Imperial Theatre. Jack Cassidy, Larry Blyden, and Sheila Bond star, and Bond later wins a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical. The show is memorable for featuring a swimming pool on stage.
1973 The Theater Development Fund’s TKTS booth opens for business at Broadway and 47th street. The booth proves a landmark of the New York theatre world by providing same-day tickets to audiences to many performances, both on Broadway and Off, at discounted prices.
1979 After delaying the start of previews twice—and the opening night once—Got Tu Go Disco finally opens on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre. The musical about a disco-hating saleswoman who becomes the queen of her local dance club closes a week later, after eight performances. At the time, it was the most expensive musical ever mounted on Broadway.
1980 Gus Weil’s play To Bury a Cousin, originally saw the stage in 1967. It now receives an Off-Broadway revival at the Cherry Lane Theatre, where it is directed by Phillip Oesterman and features Harry Goz and Diane Tarleton.
1990 Robert Louis Stevenson is rocking and rolling Off-Broadway as his Jekyll and Hyde is turned into a rock musical, courtesy of composer Michael Skloff, with a book and lyrics by David Crane and Marta Kauffman. Seven years later, Frank Wildhorn tries his hand at the dual-personality drama on Broadway.
1991 Two couples find themselves celebrating the Fourth of July on Fire Island together when Terrence McNally‘s play Lips Together, Teeth Apart, opens at the Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center. The play stars Nathan Lane and Swoosie Kurtz, and Christine Baranski and Anthony Heald, as the two married pairs. Following a successful engagement, the production transfers to Off-Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Theatre for a commercial run in January 1992.
1998 Warren Leight‘s play Side Man opens at the Roundabout Theatre Company‘s Stage Right Auditorium as a last-minute replacement production. Under the direction of Michael Mayer is a cast including Frank Wood, Wendy Makkena, and Robert Sella. Upon its closing at the Roundabout, the jazz-themed comedy drama takes up shop for an open-ended commercial run at Broadway’s John Golden Theater, with movie star Christian Slater replacing Sella as the narrator, Clifford. Come June, the play, by now having been cited as a Pulitzer Prize finalist, wins Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Featured Actor for Wood, as the side man himself.
2004 Musical Theatre Works, the not-for-profit Off-Broadway company that created and developed new musicals for 21 years, announces that it will shutter effective immediately.
2009 A music-filled Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night, starring Raúl Esparza, Anne Hathaway, Audra McDonald, and Stark Sands, opens at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Directed by Daniel Sullivan, it features an original score by Brooklyn-based folk-rock band Hem.
2013 A new musical version of Roald Dahl‘s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, featuring a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, opens in London at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The production is directed by Sam Mendes, and stars Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka. A revised version of the musical, directed by Jack O’Brien and starring Christian Borle, opens on Broadway four years later.
2018 David Ireland’s Cyprus Avenue, starring Stephen Rea, opens Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. In it, Rea plays a “non-negotiably British” Belfast Unionist who sees an uncanny likeness between his new-born granddaughter and the Irish republican leader, Gerry Adams.
2018 The world premiere of Log Cabin, by Jordan Harrison, opens at Playwrights Horizons, directed by Tony winner Pam MacKinnon. In it, a group of gays and lesbian friends consider the new mainstream through the eyes of their transgender friend. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Phillip James Brannon, Cindy Cheung, Ian Harvie, Talene Monahon, and Dolly Wells star.
More of Today’s Birthdays: Charlotte Greenwood (1890–1977). Peter Lind Hayes (1915–1998). Sidney Lumet (1924–2011). Mary Beth Peil (b. 1940). Lee Wilkof (b. 1951). John Benjamin Hickey (b. 1963). Hunter Foster (b. 1969). Brandi Burkhardt (b. 1979). Killian Donnelly (b. 1984). Annaleigh Ashford (b. 1985).
From Glinda to Dot: Take a Look at Annaleigh Ashford on the Stage