Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: August 25

1918 Birthday of composer Leonard Bernstein, who bridged the worlds of classical and Broadway, both as conductor for the New York Philharmonic and as composer of classic scores including On the Town, West Side Story, Wonderful Town, and Candide.

1936 Broadway sees its first new comedy of the season as Philip Barry‘s Spring Dance opens at the Empire Theatre. Louise Platt and Richard Kendrick star in the play about a woman determined to win the heart of a Yale man about to leave for a two-year trip to Russia. Also in the cast, playing the role of a know-it-all named “The Lippincott,” is a young José Ferrer.

1980 A Broadway-sized mix of tragedy and triumph as the Great White Way’s new musical smash, 42nd Street, opens at the Winter Garden Theatre. 42nd Street, based on the 1930s Busby Berkeley film musical of the same name, stars Jerry Orbach, Tammy Grimes, Wanda Richert, and Lee Roy Reams. At the curtain call of the opening night performance, producer David Merrick announces that the musical’s director and choreographer, Gower Champion, died that afternoon. Among Champion’s finest musical credits were the original Broadway productions of Bye Bye Birdie, Hello, Dolly!, and Sugar.

2001 The Tony-winning musical revue Fosse closes after 1,093 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

2015 Benedict Cumberbatch returns to the stage as Hamlet at the Barbican Centre in London.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Ruby Keeler (1910-1993). Van Johnson (1916-2008). Mel Ferrer (1917-2008). Sean Connery (b. 1930). Marshall Brickman (b. 1941). Simon McBurney (b. 1957). Blair Underwood (b. 1964). Jessica Boevers (b. 1972). Katie Rose Clarke (b. 1984). Ato Blankson-Wood (b. 1984).