Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 9 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 9 The Color Purple musical has its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre, starring LaChanze, in 2004.
LaChanze in The Color Purple

1873 Birthday of influential director Max Reinhardt in Austria-Hungary. He stages innovative productions of The Eternal Road, Sumurun, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1935, he also directs a film adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of the earliest Shakespeare productions to be made into a sound film.

1947 Bowing to pressure from HUAC, the Actors' Equity council reiterates its stand against communism.

1970 At today's matinee, Hello, Dolly! surpasses My Fair Lady as the longest-running Broadway musical in history. A celebration at Sardi's follows the performance.

1973 Playwright S. N. Behrman dies at age 80. His plays included Amphitryon 38, Jacobowsky and the Colonel, No Time for Comedy, and the book to the musical Fanny.

1975 As part of its season celebrating the United States Bicentennial, The Kennedy Center presents a revival of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. Directed by José Quintero, the production stars Elizabeth Ashley as Sabina, and Alfred Drake and Martha Scott as Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus. Despite rave reviews for Ashley, the revival proves to be a disappointment and closes after 7 performances.

1980 Harold Clurman dies at age 78. Shows he directed include Awake and Sing!, The Member of the Wedding, Tiger at the Gates, The Waltz of the Toreadors, and Bus Stop. Clurman was also a drama critic for the New Republic and The Nation.

1998 Trinity Rep of Providence, Rhode Island opens its season with Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's classic musical The Threepenny Opera. The production, directed by Alan MacVey, takes place in the London of tomorrow, at the coronation of King William V. Ellen McLaughlin, of Tony Kushner's Angels in America fame, stars as Jenny.

2001 Brooke Shields hosts the tenth annual "Broadway on Broadway" concert in Times Square, featuring songs from recent hit The Producers, and the then-previewing Urinetown. It's the last light-hearted event in the crossroads for some time, as news events of two days hence are about to overwhelm the city.

2004 The musical version of Alice Walker's The Color Purple has its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre, starring LaChanze. It opens on Broadway the following year, winning LaChanze the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

2004 Mandy Patinkin and the chorus girls of 42nd Street are on hand to cut the ribbon for Dodger Stages, a complex of five new Off-Broadway theatres (formerly a multiplex cinema) just west of the Times Square theatre district on 50th Street. The complex is renamed New World Stages two years later.

2009 First season debut of the TV series Glee, about life among high school theatre and music students. The series stars Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison, and goes on to feature many Broadway stars as guests.

2017 Obie-winning composer-lyricist Michael Friedman dies at age 41, following complications with HIV/AIDS. He wrote music and lyrics for musicals including Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Fortress of Solitude, and Gone Missing.

More of Today's Birthdays: Joseph E. Levine (1905-1987); John Drew Colt (1913.-1975); Cliff Robertson (1923-2011); Sylvia Miles (1924-2019); Topol (b. 1935); Tom Wopat (1951); Edward Hibbert (b. 1955); Michelle Williams (b.1980).

Watch highlights from the 2010 Broadway production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson:

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