Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: June 28

1902 Birthday of Richard Rodgers, one of Broadway’s most prolific and successful composers. His greatest successes came in partnership with lyricists Oscar Hammerstein II (Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music, etc.) and Lorenz Hart (On Your Toes, Babes in Arms, Pal Joey, A Connecticut Yankee, By Jupiter, etc.).

1926 Birthday of funnyman Mel Brooks, who goes on to write for TV’s Your Show of Shows and Broadway musicals Shinbone Alley and All American before departing for a long career in Hollywood. He returns to Broadway in triumph in 2001 with a musical adaptation of his Broadway satire, The Producers.

1950 Censorship proves to be a problem when Michael Todd’s Peep Show opens at New York’s Winter Garden Theatre. The legendary producer of the title is soon forced to tone down the revue as a result of talks with the city’s Commissioner of Licenses.

1987 Two years after the end of its original Broadway run, Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger‘s Dreamgirls returns to New York. Opening at the Ambassador Theatre, the engagement is the final stop of the musical’s international tour. Director-choreographer Michael Bennett scaled back his original staging for the tour, which first launched in fall 1985. Bennett is sadly not well enough to oversee the new Broadway run, and dies at his home in Arizona from AIDS-related lymphoma four days later.

1990 William Finn follows up his In Trousers and March of the Falsettos with the final piece of his “Marvin Trilogy,” Falsettoland. The all-sung musical starring Michael Rupert, Chip Zien, and Faith Prince throws AIDS into the mix of the already complex issue of sexual identity. The production, which opens at Playwrights Horizons, later transfers to the Lucille Lortel Theatre. March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland are later combined to create the 1992 Broadway musical Falsettos.

1999 27 years after it premiered Off-Broadway at the Truck and Warehouse Theatre, Tennessee WilliamsSmall Craft Warnings sees the New York stage again when Worth Street Theater Company stages the lyrical drama. Based on an earlier Williams one-act, Confessional, the play is set in a bar in a Southern California coastal town.

2001 Phylicia Rashad opens in Off-Broadway’s Blue at the Gramercy Theatre in a Roundabout Theatre Company production. In the Charles Randolph-Wright play, Rashad stars as Peggy Clark, the matriarch of a well-off African-American family who run a funeral home business in South Carolina and who tracks the career of jazz singer Blue Williams. Directed by Sheldon Epps, the cast also features Michael McElroy, Hill Harper, Howard W. Overshown, Jewell Robinson, Randall Shepperd, Messeret Stroman and Chad Tucker, with music is by Nona Hendryx of LaBelle fame (“Lady Marmalade”) and lyrics by Hendryx and Randolph-Wright. Rashad was set to direct a 2020 revival of Blue at the Apollo Theatre when the COVID-19 pandemic forced theatres across the country to close.

2002 To celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of composer Richard Rodgers, Broadway stars gathers for a concert at the Gershwin Theatre. Aptly titled Something Good: A Broadway Salute to Richard Rodgers on His 100th Birthday, the concert features performances by Sutton Foster, Hunter Foster, Lea Salonga, Patrick Wilson, Shuler Hensley, Laura Benanti, John Bucchino, Barbara Cook, John Cullum, Erin Dilly, Marin Mazzie (accompanied by Stephen Flaherty), Howard McGillin, Lauren Mitchell, Louise Pitre, Billy Stritch, Mary Testa, and the chorus of Oklahoma!

2007 Roundabout Theatre Company‘s revival of John Van Druten‘s comedy Old Acquaintance opens on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre. Harriet Harris and Margaret Colin star as two childhood friends who have grown into successful authors.

2010 On the Levee, the Todd Almond-Marcus Gardley play with music that frames the great Mississippi flood of 1927 through the perspective of a white and black family, opens Off-Broadway at the Duke on 42nd Street. Lear deBessonet conceived and directs the project, which stars Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper, Amari Cheatom, Michael Sibbery, Sam Numrich, and Dion Graham.

2011 Brooke Shields gets creepy, kooky, and altogether ooky when she joins The Addams Family as Morticia Addams, replacing original star Bebe Neuwirth.

2017 Lin-Manuel Miranda releases the first official music video from The Hamilton Mixtape. Riz Ahmed (as Riz MC), K’Naan, Residente, and Snow Tha Product perform “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” directed by Tomás Whitmore, which explores the unsung impact and hardships of immigrants (“America’s ghost writers,” as Snow Tha Product raps) in American culture.

2018 Melissa Errico opens Off-Broadway tonight in the Irish Repertory Theatre revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane’s 1965 musical, about a young woman who goes to a psychiatrist to cure her smoking through hypnosis but instead discovers that she is the reincarnation of a well-born English lady, also starred Stephen Bogardus and John Cudia.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936). Max Gordon (1892–1978). A. E. Hotchner (1920–2020). John Tillinger (b. 1938). Gilda Radner (1946–1989). Bruce Davison (b. 1946). Kathy Bates (b. 1948). Jessica Hecht (b. 1965). Mary Stuart Masterson (b. 1966). Danielle Brisebois (b. 1969).

Watch Sierra Boggess and Julian Ovenden perform the songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein with the New York Pops: