Playbill Vault is in theater history today: August 31

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1897 John Drew and Billie Burke (in her Broadway debut) star in the new play, My wife, opening at the Empire Theater. There are 129 performances.

1897 Actor Frederic March was born. He created many memorable stage roles in landmark plays, including Mr. Antrobus in The skin of our teeth and James Tyrone in The long journey of a day into the night.

1899 Playwright Lynn Riggs was born in – where else? – Oklahoma. His pieces like Side of the road, Big Lake, Red coat, and Growing green lilacs, capture the simple life on what was once the US border. Growing green lilacs is adapted by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II as one of the greatest hits in American musical comedy, Oklahoma!.

1916 It’s the opening night of one of the biggest hits in the history of the massive Hippodrome Theater on Broadway. Extravagance The big show opens a series of 425 performances starring Dixie Gerard, Dippy Diers and The Metzetti Brothers.

1918 Alan jay lerner, son of the founder of Lerner stores, was born in New York. Lerner becomes Broadway lyricist and collaborates with Frédéric Loewe on Broadway classics like Brigadoon, My beautiful lady, and Camelot. Together they also write the music for the Oscar-winning film. Gigi.

1942 that of Alec Coppel I killed the count opens at the Cort Theater. The production is directed by Frank Carrington and Agnes Morgan.

1953 A revival of Oklahoma! opens downtown, bringing the number of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals playing simultaneously on Broadway to four. To celebrate the occasion, the Mayor of New York, Vincent R. Impellitteri, designates August 31 to September 6 as “Rodgers and Hammerstein Week”. The other three Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals also on Broadway at the time are the original productions of The king and me, Me and Juliet, and South Pacific. The cast for the five-week limited engagement Oklahoma! features Florence Henderson as Laurey and Barbara Cook as Ado Annie.

1998 Boys’ lives, the play that gave playwright Howard Korder a name in the field when it was produced in 1988 at Lincoln Center, is receiving a 10th anniversary revival at the Judith Anderson Theater on Off-Broadway. The 1988 Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama examines three friends on the verge of adulthood as they weave their way through the sexual mores of 1980s America.

1999 After they “let in” ‘da noise and ‘da Funk, the bucket drummers from the 1996 Broadway musical return to the New York stage for Keep bangin ‘. New show at the Off-Broadway Players Theater features urban percussionists from Bring ‘da Noise, Bring’ da Funk again in collaboration with the show’s star, Savion Glover. However, this time Glover takes the helm as a director.

2011 A revised staging of George gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Dorothy Heyward and DuBose HeywardAmerican folk opera Porgy and Bess– featuring Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis – opens at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Manufacturing later Broadway transfers and won the Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Musical (McDonald’s) and Best Cover of a Musical.

2019 Performances begin at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park for the musical adaptation of the Public Works of the Public Theater of Hercules, with Jelani Alladin in the title role. Krysta Rodriguez shares the role of Meg with Roger Bart as Hades, as well as memorable turns from Jeff Hiller, James Monroe Iglehart, Ramona Keller, Tamika Lawrence and Rema Webb. The production, directed by Lear deBessonet, also featured more than 200 New Yorkers from the five boroughs. Using the beloved sheet music from the Disney film, along with five new songs, from film composer Alan Menken and lyricist David Zippel, Hercules featured a new book by Kristoffer Diaz and choreography by Chase Brock.

More birthdays today: DuBose Heyward (1885-1940), Doré Schary (1905-1980), Sanford Meisner (1905-1997), William Saroyan (1908-1981), Richard Basehart (1914-1984), buddy hackett (1924-2003), Thomas L. Miller (1940-2020), Timothy Meyers (1945-1989), Richard Gere (born in 1949), Stephen McKinley Henderson (born in 1949), Jonathan Cake (born in 1967), Deborah Gibson (born 1970), Sara Ramirez (born 1975).

Watch the highlights of Hercules, with Jelani Alladin and Krysta Rodriguez:


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