Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: May 24

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: May 24
 
Angela Lansbury in Mame
Angela Lansbury in Mame Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

1925 Godfrey Tearle plays the titular role in Hamlet in the Fellowship Players production at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The Fellowship offers Sunday shows to give employed professionals the chance to perform Shakespeare.

1945 The day before his 67th birthday, Bill Robinson is Memphis Bound!. In the musical, a group of black performers puts on a performance of H.M.S. Pinafore to raise money after their ship is marooned on a sandbar. Don Walker and Clay Warnick give Gilbert and Sullivan a boogie-woogie and jazz spin. It runs on Broadway for 36 performances.

1955 Anna Massey is The Reluctant Debutante at the Cambridge Theatre in London. William Douglas Home’s comedy about a spirited deb and her anxious parents, played by Celia Johnson and Wilfrid Hyde White, twirls for 752 performances.

1961 Members of the Dramatists Guild, hoping to ease the financial crisis in New York theatre, agree to take royalty cuts if other personnel also take cuts in compensation.

1966 Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee work with composer Jerry Herman to make a musical out of Patrick Dennis’ book (and their 1956 play) about life with his auntie. Starring Angela Lansbury, Mame runs for 1,508 performances at the Winter Garden and Broadway Theatres.

1984 A revival of The Wiz opens at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with Stephanie Mills, the only returning cast member from the 1975 premiere, reprising her role as Dorothy. The production shutters after just seven previews and 13 performances.

2003 American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, presents the world premiere of The Sound of a Voice featuring the words of David Henry Hwang and the music of Philip Glass.

2013 A revival of Athol Fugard’s 1989 play My Children! My Africa!, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, opens Off-Broadway at The Pershing Square Signature Center. Allison Gallerani, James A. Williams, and Stephen Tyrone Williams star in the drama about young South Africans testing their voices in a time of political unrest.

Today’s Birthdays: Arthur Wing Pinero (1855–1934); Robert Hood Bowers (1877–1941); Lilli Palmer (1914–1986); Arvin Brown (b. 1940); Patti LaBelle (b. 1944); Alfred Molina (b. 1953); Nell Campbell (b. 1953); Kristin Scott Thomas (b. 1960); John C. Reilly (b. 1965); Leslie Kritzer (b. 1977).

Flip through photos from the original Broadway production of Mame:

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