Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: August 31



1897 John Drew and Billie Burk (in its Broadway debut) star in the new play, My wife, opening at the Empire Theatre. There are 129 performances.

1897 Actor Frederic March was born. He created many memorable stage roles in landmark plays, including Mr. Antrobus in The skin of our teeth and James Tyrone in Long day trip into night.

1899 Playwright Lynn Riggs was born in—where else?—Oklahoma. His pieces like Side of the road, Big Lake, red coatand Grow lilacs greencapture the simple life on what was once the American border. Grow lilacs green is adapted by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II as one of the greatest hits of American musical theatre, Oklahoma!.

1916 It’s the opening night of one of the biggest hits in the history of the massive Hippodrome Theater on Broadway. extravagance The big show opens a series of 425 performances featuring Dixie Gerard, Dippy Diers and The Metzetti Brothers.

1918 Alan Jay Lerner, son of the founder of the Lerner stores, was born in New York. Lerner becomes a lyricist on Broadway and collaborates with Frederic Loewe on Broadway classics such as Brigadoon, my lovely ladyand Camelot. Together they also wrote the score for the Oscar-winning film gigi.

1942 by Alec Coppel I killed the count opens at the Cort Theatre. The production is directed by Frank Carrington and Agnes Morgan.

1953 A revival of Oklahoma! opens at the City Center, bringing to four the number of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals airing simultaneously on Broadway. To celebrate the occasion, New York City Mayor Vincent R. Impellitteri designates August 31 through September 6 as “Rodgers and Hammerstein Week.” The other three musicals by Rodgers and Hammerstein also on Broadway at the time are the original productions of The king and me, Me and Julietand South Pacific. Casting for the limited five-week engagement of Oklahoma! understand Florence Henderson like Laurey and Barbara Cook like Teen Annie.

1998 boys lifethe play that gave the playwright howard korder a name in the field when it was produced in 1988 at Lincoln Center, receives a 10th anniversary revival at Off-Broadway’s Judith Anderson Theater. The drama, which was nominated for the 1988 Pulitzer Prize, examines three friends on the brink of adulthood as they navigate their way through the sexual mores of 1980s America.

1999 After “bringing” ‘a noise and it’s funkthe bucket beaters from the 1996 Broadway musical return to the New York stage for Keep typing. The new show at Off-Broadway’s Players Theater features the urban percussionists of Bring some noise, bring some funk always in collaboration with the star of the show, Soap Glover. However, this time Glover takes the helm as director.

2011 A revisited scene George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Dorothee Heywardand DuBose HeywardAmerican folk opera Porgy and Bess– featuring audra mcdonald and Norm Lewis— opens at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Later production Broadway transfers and won Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Musical (McDonald) and Best Revival of a Musical.

2019 Performances begin at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park for Public Theatre’s Public Works musical adaptation of Herculeswith Jelani Alladin in the title role. Krista Rodriguez co-stars as Meg with Roger Bart like Hades plus memorable twists from Jeff Hiller, James Monroe IglehartRamona Keller, Tamika Laurent, and Rema Webb. The production, directed by Lear deBessonet, also featured more than 200 New Yorkers from all five boroughs. Using the beloved score from the Disney movie—plus five new songs—by the film’s composer Alain Menken and lyricist David Zippel, Hercules featured a new book by Kristoffer Diaz and choreography by Chase Pitcher.

More birthdays from today: DuBose Heyward (1885-1940), Dore Schary (1905-1980), Sanford–Meisner (1905–1997), Guillaume Saroyan (1908-1981), Richard Basehart (1914-1984), Hacket Buddy (1924–2003), Thomas L. Miller (1940–2020), Timothy Meyers (1945–1989), Richard Gere (born in 1949), Stephen McKinley Henderson (born in 1949), Jonathan Cake (born in 1967), Deborah Gibson (born in 1970), Sara Ramirez (born in 1975).

Watch the highlights of Herculeswith Jelani Alladin and Krysta Rodriguez:

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