Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 4 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 4 In 1988, Denzel Washington made his Broadway debut in Checkmates.
Marsha Jackson and Denzel Washington in Checkmates

1981 Melvyn Douglas dies at the age of 80. Born in Macon, Georgia, as Melvyn Edouard Heselberg, Douglas went on to become one of the more accomplished stage actors of his generation, winning a Tony Award for his performance in the original 1960 Broadway production of The Best Man. Douglas' performances in the films Hud and Being There earned him Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor.

1985 Charles Dickens' unfinished novel becomes The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a musical by Rupert Holmes at the Delacorte Theater in New York's Central Park. The play-within-a-play adaptation is performed by a cast including Betty Buckley, Judy Kuhn, and Donna Murphy, who play members of a troupe that is performing the show. The production transfers to Broadway's Imperial Theatre later in the season and runs for 608 performances, eventually changing its title to simply Drood.

1988 Denzel Washington makes his Broadway debut in the comedy Checkmates with Ruby Dee, Marsha Jackson, and Paul Winfield. The show runs 177 performances at the 46th Street Theatre.

1999 Following her recent Oscar win for Shakespeare in Love, Gwyneth Paltrow returns to the stage at Massachusetts' Williamstown Theatre Festival in As You Like It. Once again cross-dressing, she stars as Rosalind in a cast that also includes Mark Linn-Baker, Michael Cumpsty, Lea DeLaria, and Alessandro Nivola. Barry Edelstein directs.

2002 Harlem Song, George C. Wolfe's history of New York City's world-famous African-American neighborhood as told through its music and dance, opens at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, returning that theatre to the ranks of the city's legitimate stages. Tony nominee B.J. Crosby (Smokey Joe's Cafe) and solo performer Queen Esther lead the cast. The show runs through December 29 and releases a cast album.

2014 Constantine Maroulis, who received a 2009 Tony nomination for his performance as Drew in the musical Rock of Ages, returns to the role for a limited 12-week engagement.

Today's Birthdays: Louis Armstrong (1901-1971); Louise Kirtland (1919-1999); D.L. Coburn (b. 1938); Amelia Campbell (b. 1965). Daniel Dae Kim (b. 1968). Kate Rockwell (b. 1984).

Celebrating Tony Award Winner Denzel Washington

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