Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: June 15

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1894 Birthday of Robert Russell Bennett, orchestrator of Broadway classics, including the original Sunny, Show Boat, Anything Goes, Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss Me, Kate, The King and I, My Fair Lady, Camelot, and The sound of music. In 2008, he posthumously received a special Tony Award in “recognition of his historic contribution to American musical theater in the field of orchestrations”.

1961 goodbye birdie opens at Her Majesty’s Theater in London. Chita Rivera, the star of the original Broadway production, reprises his role opposite Marty Wilde, Pierre Marshall, and Angela Baddeley. The West End staging of the Charles Strouse-Lee Adams musical runs for 268 performances.

1965 Legendary theater is made when the husband and wife team of Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy open in The cherry orchard to Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Variety hails the production as “the outstanding presentation of Chekhov’s classic in a lifetime of theater and would do any company credit.” Cronyn and Tandy continued to grace the stage together for many years in productions such as Foxfire and The gin game.

1966 The New York Shakespeare Summer Festival is underway as the Delacorte Theater in Central Park opens for its summer season. Among this year’s productions: All’s well That ends well and Richard III, featuring talents such as Christopher Walken, Barbara Barrie, and Richard Jordan.

1980 The life and loves of Frank Harris are set to music in the musical frank without fear, opening at the Princess Theatre. The short-lived tribute only had 12 performances.

1983 Samuel Beckett is examined in three parts as its Ohio Impromptu, Disaster, and What or are presented Off-Broadway at the Harold Clurman Theatre. The one-act evening had 350 performances until it closed on April 15, 1984. Alain Schneider leads a cast that includes David Warrilow, Rand Mitchell, Donald Davis, Daniel Wirth and Margaret Reed.

1995 Michael John La Chiusa made his Broadway debut writing additional music for Bob Telsonis the score of Chronicle of an announced death, a musical directed by Graciela Daniele, based on the novel by Gabriel García Márquez. It only ran for 37 performances, but was nominated for Best Musical at the 1996 Tony Awards.

2000 Kelsey Grammar returns to Broadway for the first time since 1982 in the title role of william shakespeareit is macbeth. Although originally announced to run 60 performances at the Music Box Theatre, it closed 10 days later after receiving mixed to negative reviews.

2000 The Roundabout Theater Company production of Neil Simon Hotel suite opens at the Gramercy Theatre. Tony winner Randy Graff, Tony nominee Helen Carey, Leigh Lawson and star Ron Orbach.

2003 John Benjamin Hickey makes his theatrical directorial debut with Theresa Rebeck Bad dates. Solo exhibition opens Playwrights Horizons’ Peter Jay Sharp Theater, starring Julie White.

2005 The world premiere of Tom Donaghy’s adaptation of Chekhov The cherry orchard opens at the Atlantic Theater Company. Scott Zigler directs the play about the evolution of society in pre-revolutionary Russia, along with Brooke Adams, Larry Bryggman, Scott Foley, Alvin Epstein, Mary McCann, Todd Weeks and Isiah Whitlock, Jr.

2006 Duncan Sheik’s Game Changer spring awakening had its world premiere at the Atlantic Theater Company. The alt-pop musical features a host of unknowns early in their careers: Skylar Astin, Lilli Cooper, John Gallagher Jr., Gideon Glick, Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele.

2008 Lin-Manuel Miranda blasts his way into the history books, becoming the youngest ever to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score for In the heights. The musical also won Best Musical and two more. Tracy Letts’ also caused a stir at the 62nd Annual Tony Awards. August: Osage County and the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein South Pacific. Also note: Patti LuPone wins her second Tony as Rose in Gypsy.

2011 Lend Me A Tenor The Musical, based on the blow Ken Ludwig stage comedy, opens in London at the Gielgud Theater in the West End. The musical features book and lyrics by Peter Sham and music by Brad Carroll.

2013 The musical world premiere King Kong, a rock version of Beauty and the Beast, opens at the Regent Theater in Melbourne, Australia. It has a book by Craig Lucas and features a six-meter-tall puppet designed by Global Creatures that brings the massive silverback monkey to life. Composer and arranger Marius de Vries has created and oversees a score that features revamped versions of 1930s Broadway classics as well as new and existing songs from Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, Sarah McLachlan, Justice, Guy Garvey of Elbow and The Avalanches. A version of the musical, with a different creative team, opened on Broadway in 2018.

2015 smash fans get their wish when a one-night-only concert of Bomb of the NBC series makes its Broadway debut at the Minskoff Theatre.

2015 The Vineyard Theater hosts the world premiere of Gloria by Branden Jacob-Jenkins. Featured in the cast are Kyle Beltran, Jeanine Serralles, Jennifer Kim, Catherine Combs, Michael Crane and Ryan Spahn.

2015 Dave Malloy’s New Musical Preludes, directed by Rachel Chavkin, opens in a Lincoln Center Theater LCT3 production at the Claire Tow Theater.

2016 Magnificent—The Carole King Musical reaches a Broadway milestone with its 1,000th performance at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

More birthdays today Mickey Katz (1909-1985); Laurie Anderson (born in 1947); Simon Callow (born 1949); Polly Draper (born in 1955); Julie Hagerty (born in 1955); Helen Hunt (born in 1963); Adam Rapp (born 1968); Neil Patrick Harris (born in 1973); Rob McClure (born in 1982).

Revisit it In the heights at the Richard Rodgers Theatre:

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Throwback to In the Heights on Broadway


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