Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: May 29


1951 Interpreter Fanny Brice dies in Hollywood at the age of 60. Her showbiz career began with victories in a series of amateur nights at vaudeville theaters in Brooklyn, before a foray into burlesque as a Yiddish dialect comedienne. She was the first female comic hired by Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. for his legendary Follies series. She made her debut in 1910 and became one of the Folliessigning documents. She starred in her first film in 1928, but did not pursue a film career. She created the character Baby Snooks on stage, and it later became the centerpiece of her long-running radio show. His life was immortalized in the Broadway musical funny girl, with Barbra Streisand.

1951 Oklahoma! returns to New York, exactly three years after its original Broadway production closed. The national tour of the musical Rodgers and Hammerstein, which has visited 114 cities since its launch in 1943, opens a limited commitment of 100 performances at the Broadway Theater.

1959 Comedian-singer Max Bygraves passes 328 performances Swing in the lane at the Palladium Theater in London.

1963 Bob Fosse stars in the New York City Center Light Opera Companythe rebirth of Friend Joeypresented as part of the company’s spring season devoted to the musicals of Richard Rodgers. The cast also includes Viveca Lindfors like Vera Simpson, Jack Durant as Ludlow Lowell (recreating the role he played in the original Broadway production of the musical), Elaine Dunn like Gladys Bumps, and Rita Gardner like Linda English. The New York Times salutes Kay Medfordwriting that as journalist Melba Snyder she “brings the house down” with her rendition of the song “Zip”.

1998 Kevin Knight, who directed the London premiere of birdie, brings the American premiere to the Philadelphia Theater Company. Naomi Wallace’s adaptation of William Wharton’s novel is set in Philadelphia just after World War II and examines the friendship between the sensitive, bird-obsessed Birdy and the bodybuilding-obsessed Al, and their struggle with the identity.

Today’s birthdays: Beatrice Lillie (1894–1989). Bob Hope (1903–2003). Kevin Conway (1942–2020). Annette Bening (born in 1958). Rupert Everett (born in 1959). Anthony Azizi (born in 1969). Mel B. (born in 1975). David Burtka (born in 1975). Rachel Tucker (born in 1981).

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