Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: May 18


1923 Sweet Nell of old Drury opens at the 48th Street Theater in New York. Alfred Lunt plays the role of Charles II and Laurette Taylor that of his mistress Nell Gwynne. Lynn Fontanne and Howard Lindsay are part of the cast. Scenes from J. Hartley Manners.

1926 Among The Great Temptations are Jack Benny, hazelnut dawnand Billy Van. The revue of comedic monologues and show parodies toured New York’s Winter Garden for six months.

1929 American actor Mary Shaw dies in New York. She played supporting roles for Helena Modjeska, Julia Marloweand Mrs Fiske. She was 75 years old.

1970 The me no one knowsbased Stephen M. Joseph‘s book of the writings of children from disadvantaged neighborhoods, is adapted and directed by Robert H. Livingston at the Orpheum Theater off-Broadway. Holt and GaryWilliam Friedman provide the songs. This transfers to Broadway on December 18; the combined run is 586 performances.

nineteen eighty one Caryl Churchillthe gendered race reversal game, Cloud 9opens at the Théâtre de Lys Off-Broadway. Jeffrey Jones and Concetta Tomei star of the production under the direction of Tommy Tune.

1997 The world premiere of Alain Menken and Tim Riceit is King David opens at the newly restored New Amsterdam Theatre. With a choir of 40 and an orchestra of 60, the production features Roger Bart, Stephen Bogardus, Judy Kuhn, Alice Ripleyand Marcus Lovett.

2000 The Laramie Project opens at the Union Square Theater Off-Broadway. The piece is based on on-site research and interviews by Moises Kaufmanit is Tectonic Theater Project, focusing on the aftermath of the brutal 1998 death of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. It offers 126 performances.

2003 Wretched goes down in the history books when the French-language, British-refined musical plays its 6,680th and final Broadway performance after 16 years. It was, for a time, the second longest-running show in Broadway history.

2004 Actor and producer Tony Randall dies at 84. He starred in a series of 1950s films dory day movies and the 1970s television sitcom, The odd coupleas well as the Broadway musical, O Captain! Late in life, he realized a dream by founding the National Theater of Actorswhich featured revivals of classic comedies and dramas, some of which featured Randall.

2011 Randall L. Wreghitta theater producer known for bringing innovative dramatic work to the Broadway and Off-Broadway stages, dies at 55. His Broadway productions included Martin McDonaghit is Leenane’s beauty queen, the lonely westand The Lieutenant of Inishmore; Marie Zimmermanadaptation of Metamorphoses; and the musical gray gardens.

2014 The world premiere of Nicky Silverit is too much sun opens Off-Broadway at Vineyard Theater. Linda Lavine plays the role of a famous actor who, after collapsing while preparing for a new production of Medeadecides to spend the summer with his married daughter (played by Jennifer Westfeldt).

Today’s birthdays: Ezio Pinza (1892-1957). Meredith Willson (1902-1984). Pointer Priscilla (born in 1924). Robert Morse (born in 1931). Miriam Margolyes (born in 1941). Rob Bartlett (born in 1957). Tina Fey (born in 1970).

Watch a dozen divas sing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Wretched:

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