PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: APRIL 4
By David Gewirtzman
1921 Sarah Bernhardt, who recently had one leg amputated, comes to London to play the title role in Louis Verneuil's Daniel at the Prince's Theatre. When she found a wooden leg unwieldy, she designed a litter chair for herself and was carried around the stage. Of course, she needed no help balancing herself on one leg for the curtain calls.
1944 Philanthropist Irene Lewisohn died today in New York City. She and her sister Alice Lewisohn built and endowed the Neighborhood Playhouse. With Aline Bernstein she founded the Museum of Costume Art on Fifth Avenue in 1937.
1949 Herman Wouk's The Traitor receives just 67 performances at the 48th Street Theatre in New York. Walter Hampden and Jean Hagen are in the cast of this story about an American scientist who believes he can prevent war by passing atomic secrets to the Russians so the race for the bomb will be a stalemate. Jed Harris stages.
1964 Anyone Can Whistle — but this tune carries just nine performances at Broadway's Majestic Theatre. Stephen Sondheim composes the songs and Arthur Laurents the story of this mayoress who tries to revive her town with a fake miracle.
1971 The "Broadway Baby" is pounding 42nd St... well a few blocks away actually, at the Winter Garden Theatre as Follies opens. The Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical about Ziegfeld-era performers is co-directed by Michael Bennett and Harold Prince and stars Alexis Smith, Gene Nelson, Dorothy Collins and John McMartin.
2000 Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, starring Sir Derek Jacobi, begins previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on April 4. The Roundabout Theatre Company's production of the show, co-starring Roger Rees, Brian Murray and Laura Linney, will open April 30 and run through June 11.
2001 42nd Street comes home to 42nd Street when previews begin for an opulent new Broadway revival of the backstage musical at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The show would go on to win the 2001 Tony as Best Revival of a Musical.
2001 Teen idol Aaron Carter joins the cast of the struggling Broadway musical Seussical and, for a while, buoys the box office.
2002 A Broadway adaptation of the film The Graduate earns headlines for a nude scene featuring Hollywood star Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson.
2010 A revival of Lend Me a Tenor, Ken Ludwig’s farce about the backstage chaos that erupts at an Ohio opera house when the star tenor fails to show up for an all-important benefit gala, opens at the Music Box Theatre. Directed by Stanley Tucci, the cast includes Anthony LaPaglia, Tony Shalhoub, Jan Maxwell, Mary Catherine Garrison and Jennifer Laura Thompson.
2013 Billy Porter stars as an indefatigable drag performer whose broken heel helps mend a broken wing for a foundering shoe-maker, played by Stark Sands, in the musical Kinky Boots, opening on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Based on the 2005 film of the same title, the musical has a book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. The production will go on to win six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Today's Birthdays: Robert E. Sherwood 1896. Jerome Weidman 1913. Elizabeth Wilson 1921. Elmer Bernstein 1922. Juliette Koka 1930. Tony Perkins 1932. Walter Charles 1945. Christine Lahti 1950. Laurie Beechman 1953. David Pittu 1967.
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