1926 East Lynne, based on the popular novel of the same title, opens at the Greenwich Village Theatre. It runs only 35 performances, but a 1930s film adaptation receives an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
1940 Birthday of playwright David Rabe, who chronicles Vietnam-era angst in Streamers and The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, and comes back in the 1980s with a searing vision of Hollywood’s periphery in Hurlyburly.
1953 A revival of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess opens a 305-performance run at the Ziegfeld Theatre that outlasts the 1935 original. The revival stars Leontyne Price, Irving Barnes, Urylee Leonardos, and Cab Calloway.
1954 A posthumous revival of Kurt Weill‘s The Threepenny Opera proves to be his biggest hit. The Theatre de Lys revival, translated by Marc Blitzstein and directed by Carmen Capalbo, initially runs for 96 performances. Due to popular demand, the production returns to the same theatre the following year, and runs for seven years, becoming Off-Broadway’s longest running show (a record eventually surpassed by The Fantasticks). Stars of the production include Bea Arthur, Lotte Lenya, Scott Merrill, Jo Sullivan, John Astin, and Charlotte Rae.
1959 Sweet Bird of Youth plays at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York. Geraldine Page stars as an aging actor with Paul Newman as her paid escort. Rip Torn, Diana Hyland, and Sidney Blackmer are also in the cast. The Tennessee Williams drama plays for 375 performances. Elia Kazan stages.
1965 Neil Simon‘s The Odd Couple opens on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre. Art Carney and Walter Matthau star as mismatched roommates Felix and Oscar. It runs for 966 performances, and is later turned into a successful film and television series.
1974 Director Hal Prince turns Leonard Bernstein’s short-lived 1956 operatic musical based on the Voltaire novella into a hit with a new adaptation that features an altered song list (with both cuts and new songs added) and a new book by Hugh Wheeler, replacing Lillian Hellman’s less-than-successful original. Following a well-received Off-Broadway run at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Candide opens today at the Broadway Theatre in a raucous production that transforms the traditional proscenium stage into a black box with playing spaces throughout the theatre. Prince’s revision of the musical will become the template upon which most future productions of the now-beloved work are built.
1975 Critics and audiences don’t know what to make of Richard O’Brien‘s London import, a bizarre science-fiction musical called The Rocky Horror Show. It runs just 45 performances at the Belasco Theatre. Stars Tim Curry, Meat Loaf, and O’Brien also star in the film version, which becomes one of the all-time successful cult classics.
1999 Richard Chamberlain and Laura Benanti join the cast of The Sound of Music revival to become the new Captain Von Trapp and Maria Rainer, following Michael Siberry and Rebecca Luker. They close out the production as it ends June 20 after 533 performances.
2000 Performances begin for Michael John LaChiusa‘s Broadway musical The Wild Party, starring Toni Collette, Mandy Patinkin, and Eartha Kitt. Coincidentally, it is the second New York musical of this season to be based on that 1928 poem by Joseph Moncure March. Off-Broadway’s Manhattan Theatre Club staged composer-lyricist-librettist Andrew Lippa‘s version with the same title.
2002 Edward Albee‘s controversial drama The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? opens on Broadway. The story of a man who destroys his marriage and life when he falls in love with a goat goes on to win the 2003 Tony Award as Best Play.
2014 Robert Askins‘ irreverent comedy Hand to God opens Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Steven Boyer stars as soft-spoken Christian Puppet Ministry student Jason, who becomes possessed by his foul-mouthed sock puppet. The production transfers to Broadway the following year.
2016 Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams star in the Broadway debut of David Harrower‘s Blackbird, opening at the Belasco Theatre. Joe Mantello directs the play about a 27-year-old woman who finds and confronts the man who sexually abused her when she was 12. The play was previously seen in New York in a 2007 Off-Broadway production, also directed by Mantello, that starred Daniels opposite Alison Pill.
2019 Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz‘s musical Be More Chill opens on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre. The show arrives on Broadway with a cult following, thanks to the popularity of the cast recording from its 2015 world premiere at New Jersey’s Two River Theater. Will Roland stars as Jeremy, an average teenager who takes a pill purported to make people more—you guessed it—chill.
2019 The world premiere of Tori Sampson’s If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka opens at Playwrights Horizons, directed by Leah C. Gardiner and choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly. A finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the play is a contemporary riff on a West African fable brimming with live music and dance. In the village of Affreakah-Amirrorkah, no one questions that Akim is the one true, perfect beauty—not even her jealous classmates. But they’ll be damned before they let her be the leading lady in this story.
More of Today’s birthdays: Barry Fitzgerald (1888-1961). Sam Jaffe (1891-1984). Heywood Hale Broun (1918-2001). David Rabe (b. 1940). Mark Lamos (b. 1946). Jasmine Guy (b. 1962). Adam Blanshay (b. 1981). Rafe Spall (b. 1983). Olivia Wilde (b. 1984).