1881 Birth of Pelham Grenville Wodehouse—P.G. Wodehouse to theatre lovers—in England. He writes a series of “Jeeves” stories as well as many Broadway musicals including Rosalie and The Three Musketeers (lyrics), Anything Goes and Oh, Kay! (librettos), Very Good Eddie and Sally (additional lyrics), and writes the words to the song “Bill,” heard in Show Boat.
1930 A new musical revue opens on Broadway: Three’s A Crowd, with a book by Howard Dietz and much of its music from Arthur Schwartz. In the cast are Libby Holman, Fred Allen, Clifton Webb, Tamara Geva, and Fred MacMurray. Some memorable songs are introduced in the show, including “Body and Soul” and “Something to Remember You By.” The revue runs 272 performances.
1952 Shirley Booth plays a lonely American looking for love in Venice in Arthur Laurents‘ The Time of the Cuckoo. The show runs for 263 performances at the Empire Theatre. David Lean’s 1955 screen version, Summertime, stars Katharine Hepburn. It is also reincarnated in the form of Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim‘s 1965 musical Do I Hear a Waltz?
1953 John Forsythe plays an American captain learning how to live with the natives on occupied Okinawa in John Patrick‘s drama The Teahouse of the August Moon, which wins both the Tony Award for Best Play and Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
1969 Broadway audiences get the effects of the post-war 60’s as many performances, both on Broadway and off, are canceled due to Vietnam Moratorium Day. Producer Hal Prince cancels the performance of Fiddler on the Roof that was scheduled for the evening. The cast is paid, though. Although its shows are performed, the proceeds from Hair go to various charities of the cast’s choice. Woody Allen, the star of Play It Again, Sam, doesn’t go on, although producer David Merrick says it is a breach of contract. Many Off-Broadway performances are canceled, and even national tours are affected. Joel Grey, performing in Dallas in Cabaret, threatens to take out a newspaper ad explaining his absence. He misses tonight’s performance.
2003 New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joins Manhattan Theatre Club artistic director Lynne Meadow and executive producer Barry Grove in firing a confetti cannon on West 47th Street to rededicate the refurbished Biltmore Theatre. The theatre that once housed Hair and Barefoot in the Park has been dark since 1987 and came close to being demolished. Instead, backed by a $27 million capital campaign, and an accompanying multi-use tower that made it all financially feasible, the 1925-vintage playhouse relights as MTC’s new Broadway flagship. It is renamed the Samuel J. Friedman, after the Broadway publicist, in 2008.
2003 89-year-old playwright William Gibson (The Miracle Worker, Two for the Seesaw) has a late-career hit with Golda’s Balcony, a drama about Israeli prime minister Golda Meir. Gibson and star Tovah Feldshuh earn Tony nominations for their work. The production runs 493 performances.
2009 Rebuilt from (below) the ground up, the 1918 vintage Henry Miller’s Theatre reopens with Roundabout Theatre Company‘s production of Bye Bye Birdie. Nolan Gerard Funk, Gina Gershon, Jayne Houdyshell, Bill Irwin, John Stamos, and Allie Trimm star in the first Broadway revival of the 1960 musical about a rock singer whose manager plans one last publicity stunt before he’s drafted into the army.
2018 Donja R. Love’s Fireflies makes its world premiere Off-Broadway with Atlantic Theater Company. Set in the Jim Crow South, the piece is the second in the writer’s “Love Plays” trilogy, which explores Black, queer love across crucial points in American history. Saheem Ali directs, with Khris Davis and DeWanda Wise starring.
More of Today’s Birthdays: Hassard Short (1887–1956). Jane Darwell (1879–1967). Ina Claire (1893–1985). Robert E. Lee (1918–1994). José Quintero (1924–1999). Linda Lavin (b. 1937) Paige Davis (b. 1969). Gavin Lee (b. 1971).
Stamos and Gershon Star in Broadway Bye Bye Birdie Revival