Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: April 26


1926 Sex. It is a comedy. Mae West plays a Canadian woman who doesn’t have time for those cops; it’s the British navy for her. It lasts one season, but the next it is raided as immoral. The cast is stopped and West, who also co-produced, is sentenced to 10 days in jail and fined $500. A well-received Off-Off-Broadway revival in 2000 proved that the series still had laughs and a unique social point of view.

1967 Betty Comden and Adolf Green provide the lyrics to Jule Styneis music for Hallelujah, baby! in which Leslie Uggams makes her Broadway debut as the woman who never gets old. Arthur Laurents wrote the book with Burt Shevelove staging. He won five Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Musical for Uggams and Best Musical.

1970 There is a book of George Furthmusic and lyrics by Stephen SondheimHarold Prince at the helm, Michael Bennett handy for choreographing, and Elaine Stritch on your mind; who wouldn’t want to be in there Company? The musical debuted at the Alvin Theater on Broadway and was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical.

1973 Philip Bosco, Patricia Conolly, James Farentino and Rosemary Harris star in a cover of A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. The production directed by Ellis Rabb is performed at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.

1987 Val May conducts a cover of George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion at the Plymouth Theatre, with Amanda Plummer and Peter O’Toole.

1992 The Music and Life of a Jazz Legend Jelly Roll Morton come to life on stage as Jelly’s Last Jam opens at the Virginia Theater on Broadway. Soap Glover and Gregory Hines share the title role at different ages. George C. Wolfe directs the production for which he wrote the book.

1995 Manhattan Drama Clubthe production of Richard Greenbergit is The night and its stars opens Off-Broadway at the American Place Theater. David Warren leads a cast that includes Patrick Breen, Keith Charles, Pierre Frechetteand John Slatery. The show follows on from the quiz scandal scandals of the late 1950s.

1997 Cy Coleman returns to Broadway with the help of Ira Gasman and David Newman with their musical, Life, opening at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The show about the lives of prostitutes in 1980s Times Square features Chuck Cooper, Pamela Isaacs, Kevin Ramseyand Lillias White. Cooper and White both win Tony Awards for their performances.

1998 Tony winner Gerald Gutierrez leads fellow Tony winner Jane Alexander at the Broadway premiere of Joanna Murray’s drama, Honorat the Belasco Theater.

1999 It’s nothing but the blues goes from a sold-out run at Off-Broadway’s New Victory Theater to a Broadway engagement at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater. The show traces the history of the Blues genre from its African roots to contemporary artists, with songs like “Fever”, “Strange Fruit” and “My Man Rocks Me”.

2001 Ken Ludwig and Don Schlitzit’s music The Adventures of Tom Sawyerbased on Mark Twain novel, opens on Broadway. The stars of the production Joshua Park like Tom Sawyer, Jim Poulos like Huckleberry Finn, and Kristen Bell like Becky Thatcher. Making her Broadway debut in the supporting role of Sabina Temple is the future Tony Award winner Nikki M. James.

2004 Rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs makes his Broadway debut in a revival of Lorraine Hansberryit is A raisin in the sun. He plays Walter Lee Younger, the role originated by Sidney Poitier in the 1959 Broadway Original. His co-stars are Phylicia Rashad and audra mcdonaldwho both won Tony Awards for their performances.

2005 32 years later to the day, another Broadway revival of A tram called Désir opens at Studio 54. This time around, Natasha Richardson, John C. Reilly, Amy Ryan and Chris Bauer take on Williams’ sultry quartet in a Roundabout theater production directed by Edward Hall.

2009 Roundabout Theater Companythe Broadway production of Christopher Hamptonthe 1970 comedy, The philanthropistdirected by the Tony Award nominee David Grindley and starring Tony winner Matthew Broderickopens at the American Airlines Theater.

2010 The first Broadway revival of Fencesthe 1987 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by August Wilsonopens at the Cort Theatre. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis both win Tony Awards for their performances in the drama about a former Negro League baseball player who now fights like a garbage man. Both Washington and Davis rehearse their performances in the 2016 film adaptation, directed by Washington.

2012 Roundabout Theater Company opens revival of Marc CamolettiThe sex farce of the 1960s Don’t dress for dinner—a sort of sequel to Boeing-Boeingfeaturing the same horny male characters, Robert and Bernard, at the American Airlines Theater on Broadway. Ben Daniels, Patricia Kalember, David Aron Damane, adam james, Jennifer Tilly, and Spencer Kayden star under John Tillingerdirection.

2012 leap of faith– a musical based on the 1992 film about a rogue preacher who blows through a depressed, drought-ridden Kansas town – opens on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. Featuring a gospel and country score by Alain Menken and Glenn Slaterproduction stars Raul Esparza as preacher Jonas Nightingale.

2016 Eternal Tuck, the musical based on Natalie Babbitt’s bestselling 1975 novel about a love that could literally live forever, is debuting on Broadway. Claudia Shear and Tim Federle are writing the book, Chris Miller the music and Nathan Tysen the lyrics. The cast includes Carolee Carmello, Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Terrence Mann. It takes place at the Broadhurst Theatre.

2017 Laura Osnes and Corey Cott star in Bandstand, opening on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The musical, directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, uses an original swing score by Rob Taylor and Richard Oberacker to tell the story of Donny Novitski (Cott), who brings together a group of World War II veterans to participate to a national radio contest in search of the next big band sensation.

2018 by Eugene O’Neill The ice cream man is coming returns to Broadway with the fourth Broadway production at the Jacobs Theater. Directed by George C. Wolfe, the cast includes Denzel Washington, Colm Meaney, David Morse, Bill Irwin and Tammy Blanchard.

Today’s birthdays: Anita Loos (1888-1981), Robert Downing (1914-1975), Russell Nype (1920-2018), Mike Kellin (1922-1983), Bambi Linn (born in 1926), carol burnet (born in 1933), Conrad Susa (1935-2013), Howard Davies (1945-2016), Giancarlo Esposito (born in 1958), Eugene Fleming (born in 1961), Arianne Phillips (born in 1963), Pablo Schreiber (born in 1978)

Watch the best moments from the 2012 Broadway production of leap of faithwith Raúl Esparza:

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