Playbill Vault is today in theater history: August 2

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1900 Birthday of actress and singer Helen Morgan, who rose to fame as a nightclub artist. She has a show at Billy Rose’s Backstage Club, where crowded conditions cause her to perch on her accompanist’s piano, a subtle touch that quickly becomes a hallmark. On Broadway, Morgan appears in Show boat (1927), in which she sings “Bill” and “Can’t Help Lovin ‘Dat Man”. She then resumes her role for the 1936 film version.

1943 Broadway is overrun by the US military. Five pieces in one act, collectively entitled The Army Play-by-Play, of the Enlisted Men’s competition are presented under the supervision of John Golden at the Martin Beck Theater. Games-Where are we going, first cousins, button your lip, call by mail, and Pack up your problems—Play for 40 performances and end on September 4th.

1944 Mae West adds to the summer heat of war with its comedy of debauchery Catherine was awesome. She also plays in the room, opposite Gene Barry.

1979 At the height of his glory, Saturday Night Live actor Gilda radner recreates some of his most popular characters in Gilda Radner – Live from New York, which performs at the Winter Garden Theater.

1989 Joe hart‘s People who could fly opens Off-Broadway at the South Street Theater. Conceiver Hart is also leading the production with a cast of 12 performers. The play, both theatrical and danced, features tales from India, Mallorca, Scotland, Haiti, Japan and the southern pre-Civil War. He plays 41 shows and returns to Town Hall later in the year for nine more.

2001 Gerard Alessandrini’s topically comical rewrite Irving Berlinthe last musical, Mister President, opens at the Douglas Fairbanks Theater, performing in repertoire with his Broadway Forbidden 2001: An Odyssey Parody. The rewrite re-enacts the 2000 presidential election, with characters redesigned to resemble George W. Bush, Al Gore, and their families and advisers.

2009 Jason gilkisonthe dance magazine Burn the ground– with an eclectic mix of champion dancers – opens on Broadway at the Longacre Theater. The production includes the team of Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina smirnoff from the hit TV series Dancing with the stars.

2012 Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth, an autobiographical work starring the great boxer and written by Kiki Tyson and Randy Johnson and directed by Spike Lee, opens on Broadway at the Longacre.

2012 America’s Last Smoker opens Off-Broadway at the Westside Theater. Directed by Andy Sandberg, the satirical rock musical comedy About a No-Smoking World stars Farah Alvin, Natalie Venetia Belcon, John Bolton and Jake Boyd, with a book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Peter Melnick.

2014 Chita rivera stars in new staging of the musical Kander and Ebb Visit, based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 play about a despised woman who returns to her impoverished city in search of ultimate revenge. John doyle conducts the simplified 95-minute version of the musical at the Williamstown Theater Festival. The production moved to Broadway the following year.

More birthdays today: Earle larimore (1899-1947). Myrna Loy (1905-1993). Ruth nelson (1905-1992). James baldwin (1924-1987). Carroll O’Connor (1924-2001). Antoine Crivello (born 1955). Marie-Louise Parker (born 1964).

Watch highlights from the 2015 Broadway production of Visit, with Chita Rivera:


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