Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: May 2

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: May 2
A scene from the original Broadway production of Sunday in the Park with George.
A scene from the original Broadway production of Sunday in the Park with George. Martha Swope/©Billy Rose Theatre Division, NYPL for the Performing Arts

1887 Birthday of Vernon Castle who, with wife and dancing partner Irene Castle, redefines not just what dancing represented on Broadway, but the kind of music used for that dancing. He is featured in About Town, The Girl Behind the Counter, The Summer Widowers, and The Hen-Pecks before being killed at the front in World War I.

1895 Birthday of Lorenz Hart, sparkling Broadway lyricist whose most famous collaboration, with Richard Rodgers, produces Babes in Arms, Pal Joey, On Your Toes, A Connecticut Yankee, The Boys From Syracuse, By Jupiter, and other witty musicals of the 1920s–1930s.

1916 Commemorating the tercentenary of William Shakespeare's death, the company from the Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon presents a special matinee of Julius Caesar at the Drury Lane Theatre in London. Members of the company include Frank Benson, Gladys Cooper, Ben Greet, and Ellen Terry.

1930 Playwright Bernard Slade, who pens Tribute and Same Time, Next Year, is born in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

1957 Franchot Tone and Wendy Hiller ponder A Moon for the Misbegotten at New York's Bijou Theatre. Carmen Capalbo stages the Eugene O'Neill drama that runs just 68 performances.

1977 Yul Brynner returns to Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I. The revival plays the Uris Theatre for 696 performances. Constance Towers plays Anna.

1984 Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine spend Sunday in the Park with George as their new musical opens on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. The show, which brings the famous Georges Seurat painting to life, stars Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. It runs 604 performances, and wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

2000 Manhattan Theatre Club's staging of Proof, by David Auburn, begins performances Off-Broadway. Larry Bryggman, Johanna Day, Ben Shenkman, and Mary-Louise Parker star in the play that later extends, transfers to Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre, and wins newcomer Auburn the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

2001 It's a publicist's dream: A lush revival of the musical 42nd Street opens on the revitalized 42nd Street (at the Ford Center), and goes on to win the Tony Award as Best Revival of a Musical.

2003 First Off-Broadway performance at Playwrights Horizons for Doug Wright's play I Am My Own Wife, which moves to Broadway and wins both the 2004 Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award as Best Play.

2005 The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee opens on Broadway after a long rise from Off-Off-Broadway to regional theatre to Off-Broadway. The musical, with a score by William Finn, wins Tony Awards for Best Book (Rachel Sheinkin) and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler).

2010 Lynn Redgrave, a member of England's legendary acting clan, dies at age 67. Redgrave made her professional debut in 1962, as part of the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Court Theatre. Her numerous Broadway credits included Black Comedy/White Lies, My Fat Friend, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Knock Knock, Saint Joan, Aren't We All?, Sweet Sue, Love Letters, A Little Hotel on the Side, The Master Builder, Shakespeare for My Father, Moon Over Buffalo, and The Constant Wife.

More of Today's Birthdays: Jerome K. Jerome 1859. Tyrone Power, Sr. 1869. Hedda Hopper 1885. Brian Aherne 1902. Theodore Bikel 1924. Roscoe Lee Browne 1925. David Suchet 1946. Christine Baranski 1952. Stephen Daldry 1960. Michael Grandage 1962. Kate Baldwin 1975.

Watch original The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee star Celia Keenan-Bolger talk to Seth Rudetsky about performing in the show:

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