Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: May 5

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1955 Baseball, ballet and Gwen Verdon provide the slugging power in Cursed Yankees. Adapted by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop from Wallop’s book, The year the Yankees lost the pennant, the musical scores 1,019 performances on Broadway. Songs provided by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Bob Fosse choreographs.

1958 Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne begin their final Broadway performance together in Visit. Maurice Valencia adapts the drama of Friedrich Durrenmattit is The visit of the old lady. It takes place for nearly six months at the new Théâtre Lunt-Fontanne.

1959 The world of Paul Slickey is John Osborneis the first attempt at a musical. He is a destructive gossip columnist played by Dennis Lotis. Osborne directs and Christopher Whelan provides the score. The Vine is wilting after 47 performances at the Palace Theater in London.

1966 Muriel Spark’s novel about a Scottish schoolteacher and her charges comes to life as Miss Jean Brodie’s Bounty. Jay PressonAllenAdaptation Stars Vanessa Redgraveand has 588 performances at Wyndham’s Theater in London.

1974 Terrence McNallyit is Bad habitsabout highly dysfunctional people, opens at the Broadway Booth’s Theater after an Off-Broadway run at the Astor Place Theater. F. Murray Abraham directs the cast of actors who star in the two one-act comedies, Ravenswood and dune lawnthat make up production.

1994 Two-time Tony Award-winning director-choreographer Joe Layton, who has lent his talents to productions such as Once upon a time there was a mattress, The sound of music, no chains, George M!and Barnumdies at age 63. Born Joseph Licthman, he also broke into film and television, choreographing Resolutely modern Millie and For the boysas well as the television special My name is Barbara.

2002 George Sidney, who directed film versions of some major Broadway musicals, dies at 85. His films included Show boat; Kiss me, Kate; Annie Get your gun; the follies of Ziegfeld; Pal Joey; Goodbye Birdie; half a sixpence; and Elvis Presleyit is Long live Las Vegas.

2003 Political commentator Bill Maher brings his personal exhibition, Victory starts at home, at the Virginia Theater, offering commentary on the current political situation, including President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. Maher had lost his TV show, politically incorrectafter expressing unpopular views on the September 11 terrorist attacks.

2004 Marc Medoffit’s playing primateon the ethics of infecting a laboratory gorilla with the AIDS virus, scandalizes Broadway with its portrayal of the primate by a black actor (Andre DeShields) and a scene showing a sexual encounter between the gorilla and a human female. Despite an announcement from the producer asking audiences to view the show with an open mind, it ends after five performances.

2011 Arthur Laurents, the irascible and enduring theater man who wrote plays and screenplays and had an important career as a director, but left his lasting mark as the librettist of two landmark musicals , West Side Story and Gypsy— dies at age 93.

2011 Tony Kushnerit is The Smart Gay Man’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scripturesa dynamic family drama interspersed with politics and American union fervor, opens at public theater. Michael Greifwho staged the play’s world premiere at Guthrie Theater in 2009 also directs the Off-Broadway bow of the four-hour work.

2014 The world premiere of Anthony Giardina The city of conversation opens Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theaterof the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Jan Maxwell stars as a political stewardess from Georgetown in the play that spans 30 years, from the final days of the Carter administration to the start of the Obama presidency.

Today’s birthdays: Benny Baker (1907-1994). Tyrone III Might (1914-1958). Pat Carroll (born in 1927). Roger Rees (1944-2015). Eisa Davis (born in 1971). Jose Llana (born in 1976). Lucas Near-Verbrugghe (born 1981)

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A look back at Roger Rees on stage

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