Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: May 7

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1915 Among the dead after the sinking of the Lusitania were director-producer Charles Frohman and playwright Charles Klein. Frohman’s first success was Shenandoah. In 1893 he opened the Empire Theater in New York with his own stock company. Two of Klein’s plays, The auctioneer and The master of music, were produced by David Belasco. At the time of his death, Klein was a play reader for Frohman.

1924 This marriage turns out to be short. Tallulah Bankhead stars in the Eliot C. Williams drama set in London just 20 times. Catherine Nesbitt, Herbert Marshall, and Auriol Lee are also in the cast.

1953 Lilo is the star, but a young dancer named Gwen Verdon steal the show Cole Porterit is Cancan, which opens its run of 892 performances at the Shubert Theatre.

1963 In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tyrone GuthrieThe theater of the same name opens with a production of Hamlet featuring George Grizzard as Prince and Jessica Tandy like Gertrude. Ralph Rapson designed the complex which cost $2.5 million to build and outfit.

1973 Ferenc Molnarit is The game is the thing opens on Broadway at the Bijou Theatre. Gene Feist stages the 11-week run with a cast that includes David Dukes and Elizabeth Owens.

1977 Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht Happy ending made its Broadway debut at the Martin Beck Theater, transferred from a run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The production is supposed to star Meryl Streep, Christopher Lloyd and Grayson Hall, but Lloyd fell and tore two ligaments in his leg during rehearsals, and understudy Bob Gunton played his part on opening night. A few nights later, Gunton himself falls ill, and Lloyd is called back soon after his recovery, playing on crutches and in an ankle-to-hip cast.

nineteen eighty one Austin Pendleton directed Lilian Hellmanit is The little foxes, which opens at the Martin Beck Theater on Broadway. Elizabeth Taylor makes Great White Way debut in co-starring production Maureen Stapleton, Anthony Zerbe, and Anne Talman.

1982 Craig Carnelia and Jeffrey Kindley Ask Is there life after high school? as their high school reunion revue opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on Broadway. With a cast including Alma Cuervo, Sandy Faison, Harry Groener and stunt double Scott Bakula, the musical will only run 12 performances, but will become a community theater favorite.

2008 Manhattan Drama Clubthe rebirth of Caryl Churchillit is best girls opens at the Biltmore Theatre. Elizabeth Wonder, Martha Plimpton, and Marisa Tomei Star.

2017 Tony Award-winning theater veteran Barbara Cook, who began her Broadway career with the 1951 musical Flahooley, announces that she has retired from performing at age 89. Cook won a Tony Award for her performance as Marian Paroo in the original production of The music man, and has also created roles in musicals, including She loves Me, Candid, Simple and Fancy, and The grass harp. Her last Broadway appearance was the 2010 Musical Retrospective Sondheim on Sondheim.

Today’s birthdays: Darren McGavin (1922-2006). Anne Baxter (1923-1985). Gordon Davidson (1933-2016). Nicholas Hytner (born in 1956). Eric LaJuan Summers (1982-2019).

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From The Music Man to She Loves Me: A look back at Barbara Cook on Broadway


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