Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: April 11

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1914 Mrs. Patrick Campbell and Herbert Beerbohm Tree are the very first Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins. The Class and Character Story of George Bernard Shaw, Pygmaliongave 118 performances at His Majesty’s Theater in London.

1932 Broadway Saboteur and Leading Man’s Birthday Joel Grey, whose best-known roles include the title character in George M!the spectral emcee in the original Cabaretand the morally compromised Wonderful Wizard of Oz in Bad.

1936 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart provide music and lyrics for on your toes at the Imperial Theater on Broadway. George Balanchine choreographed jazz ballet, Massacre on Tenth Avenuewith Ray Bolger and Tamara Geva. The show lasts nearly 10 months.

1950 Birthday of the actor and clown of the New Vaudeville Bill Irwin. Irwin appears on Broadway in three series of mad moon (in 1993, 1995 and 1998), and won a Tony Award for his performance as George in the 2005 revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967 What’s going on behind the scenes Hamlet is the premise of Tom Stoppardthe comedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. John Stride and Edward Peterbridge are the condemned pair at London’s Old Vic.

1967 Melina Mercouri head in Jules Dassinit is Ilya darling. Joe Darion give the lyrics to Manos Hadjidakis‘ music. Dassin adapted the book from Never on Sunday, and he does the staging. There are 319 performances at the Mark Hellinger Theater on Broadway.

1991 Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schoenbergit is Miss Saigon open, update Lady Butterflymake a star of Lea Salongaand causing a ruckus when the Englishman Jonathan Price is chosen to play a Eurasian “Engineer”. Pryce and Salonga both won Tony Awards for their performances, and there were 4,092 Broadway Theater performances.

1996 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein IIthe most famous duo, The king and meback to Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre. Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy have to dance to the Tony Awards to win Best Actress and Best Revival.

2000 Michael FraynThe 1941 drama about the highly controversial meeting between German physicist Werner Heisenberg and his Danish counterpart, Niels Bohr, in Copenhagen opens at the Royale Theater on Broadway. The room with minimal decor and characters, featuring Philip Bosco, Blair Brownand Michael Cumpstywon the Tony Award for Best Play and Best Director for Michael Blakemore (which also won Best Director for the musical revival Kiss me, Kate the same night).

2005 Margo Skinner, who starred as Miss Poppenghul, the harassed secretary of movie mogul David O. Selznick, in the spring run of Manhattan Drama Clubthe production of Moonlight and magnolias, is found dead in her apartment during the course of the play. She was 55 years old.

2007 Actor and director Roscoe Lee Browne died of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 81. He received a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Holloway in August Wilson’s Two trains in motion.

2010 Million Dollar Foursomea musical about the legendary 1956 recording session that brought together Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkinsand Elvis Presley, opens at the Nederlander Theatre. Directed by Eric Schaefferproduction stars Eddie Clendening, Throws Guest, Levi Kreisand Robert Britton Lyons. Kreis, who made his Broadway debut in the production, won a Tony Award for his performance as Jerry Lee Lewis.

2011 actor-comic Chris Rock made his Broadway debut in Stephen Adly Guirgisthe Enf**ker with the hat, which opens at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater. The play, which is described as a “high-octane verbal cage match about love, loyalty and misplaced haberdashery”, also has stars from Bobby Cannavale, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Annabelle Sciorraand Yul Vazquez.

2012 Magic/Bird, Eric SimonsonThe highly theatrical drama about the college-Olympic rivalry and the friendship of basketball heroes Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird, opens at the Longacre Theater on Broadway. Coker Tug and Kevin Daniels play the household names Bird and Johnson, respectively. The production failed to catch up with the audience and ended after 37 performances.

2013 Roald DahlThe beloved children’s book, about a precocious bookworm with magical powers, comes to life as Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchinit is Mathilde the musical opens on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre. Young actors Sophie Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryonand Milly Shapiro share the title role. The cast also includes Bertie Carvel like Miss Trunchbull, Lawrence Ward like Miss Honey, and Gabriel Ebert and Lesli Marguerite like Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. The production lasted almost four years, for a total of 1,554 performances.

More birthdays from today: Paul Douglas (1907-1959). Louise Lasser (born in 1939). Pierre Riegert (born in 1947). Megan Sikora (born in 1979).

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A first look at Matilda The Musical on Broadway


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