Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: September 7


1909 Director Birth of Elia Kazan. On Broadway, he directs the original productions of A tram called Désir, Cat on a hot tin roof, Death of a salesman, all my sonsand J.B., winning Tony Awards for the last three. Kazan is also enjoying success in filmmaking, winning Oscars for Gentleman’s Agreement and At the water’s edgeas well as an honorary Oscar in 1999.

1921 The first stage adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs novel Tarzan of the monkeys is a hit at the Broadhurst Theatre, adapted by the namesake George Broadhurst himself and starring Ronald Adair like Tarzan, Alfred Arno like Kerchak, and Ethel Dwyer like Jane Porter.

1928 Sophie Treadwell’s expressionist drama mechanical opens on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre. The play is based on the case of Ruth Snyder, who was executed at Sing Sing in January 1928 for the murder of her husband. Zita Johann stars, and the cast also includes the Broadway debut of a young actor named Clark Gable.

1946 Director Jerry Zaks was born. Specializing in comedies and musicals, Zaks is a four-time Tony Award winner for his work on The House of Blue Leaves, lend me a tenor, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATIONand the 1992 revival of guys and dolls.

1949 Mae West performs in a successful revival of his own play, Diamond Lilfor a run of 182 performances at the Plymouth Theatre.

1999 Epic proportionsa wacky comedy Larry Coen and David Crane, begins its performances at the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway. The show on the set of an epic film stars the Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth and a number of other actors known for their comic work: Alan Tudyk, Ruth Williamson, Ross Lehmanand Richard B. Shull, who dies during the brief run of the show. Jerry Zaks directs.

2000 Revisions Gérard Alessandrini Forbidden Broadway is cleaning up! become Forbidden Broadway 2001: A Parody Odyssey. The revue now parodies new Broadway entries such as Aida, Swing!, The Music Manand seustic.

2001 Performances begin for the Off-Broadway musical The Spitfire Grill at the Duke on 42. Featuring Liz Callaway, Garrett Longand Phyllis Somervillethe show of James Valq and Fred Alley previously won the 2001 Richard Rodgers Production Award.

2008 Lease ends its 12-year tour at the Nederlander Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning rock musical from the late lyricist-librettist-composer Jonathan Larson played 5,123 performances and 16 previews.

2008 The quarrel, a battle of faith and tolerance, officially opens Off-Broadway at DR2. Adapted by David Brandes and Joseph Telushkin from Chaim Grade’s short story “My Feud with Hersh Rasseyner”, The quarrel follows the fortuitous meeting of two distant friends, one who has become an Orthodox rabbi, the other a lay writer.

2013 A User’s Guide to Hell, with Bernard Madoff, by Lee Blessing, nominated for the Tony and Pulitzer Prize, debuts on Stage II of the Atlantic Theater Company. Directed by Michole Biancosino, the cast includes Edward James Hyland as Madoff and David Deblinger as Verge. Eric Sutton and Polly Lee played residents of Hell.

2016 The world premiere of the Chad Beguelin–Bob Martin–Matthew Sklar musical Prom opens at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. Casey Nicholaw directs and choreographs a cast consisting of Brooks Ashmanskas, Beth Leavel, Christopher Sieber, Anna Grace Barlow, Caitlin Kinnunen, Martin Moran, Angie Schworer, Courtenay Collins and Josh Lamon. The show moves north, with most of the original cast intact, to Broadway’s Longacre Theater in 2018.

More birthdays today Anthony Quayle (1913-1989), Lauren Jones (born in 1942), Michael McCarty (1946-2014), Ted Chapin (born in 1950), Michael Emerson (born in 1954), Michael Feinstein (born 1956), J. Smith-Cameron (born 1957)

Watch the original cast members of Lease to talk about the musical at a 2016 BroadwayCon panel:

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