Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 23 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 23 Happy birthday, William Shakespeare.
William Shakespeare

1564 Okay, no one's actually certain that April 23, 1564 was William Shakespeare's birthday, but that's the accepted date. Over the next 52 years, the Bard pens such works as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Comedy of Errors, Othello, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar.

1935 A Kind Lady finds herself held hostage by the young man she's befriended. Edward Chodorov adapts Hugh Walpole's novel. Grace George and Henry Daniell star. There are 82 performances at the Booth Theatre on Broadway.

1952 Alec Guinness plays an ant scientist who lives in an anthill Under the Sycamore Tree. Diana Churchill is his ant queen. Peter Glenville directs Sam Spewack's comedy at the Aldwych Theatre in London.

1959 Andy Griffith plays a gentle sheriff and Dolores Gray the dancehall girl who falls in love with him in Destry Rides Again. Michael Kidd directs and choreographs the 472 showings at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. Harold Rome provides the score.

1963 Daniel Massey and Barbara Cook play a store clerk and salesgirl who can't stand each other—unaware that they've been writing anonymous love letters back and forth—in Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick, and Joe Masteroff's musical She Loves Me. Harold Prince produces and directs. It runs 301 performances at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.

1964 James Baldwin's Blues For Mister Charlie, about a northern black man murdered by a white southern shopkeeper, is staged at ANTA by Burgess Meredith. Rip Torn and Al Freeman, Jr. are in the cast. It runs for 148 performances.

1997 Iceberg! Maury Yeston and Peter Stone's new musical Titanic opens on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The show, about the infamous night in April 1912 aboard the supposedly unsinkable liner, sails on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical and stays afloat for 804 performances.

1998 Martin McDonagh's hit Off-Broadway drama, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, about an elderly woman who tries to spoil her homely 40-year-old daughter's first (and possibly last) chance for romance, opens at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre. The production earns Garry Hynes the first Tony Award ever given to a woman for Best Director. (Moments later, Julie Taymor takes home the second female directorial Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical for The Lion King.)

2006 The National Theatre's Olivier Award-winning production of Alan Bennett's The History Boys opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre. Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour play two of the teachers, and the title "boys" include Samuel Barnett, Dominic Cooper, James Corden, Jamie Parker, and Russell Tovey. The production wins Tony Awards for actors Barnett, de la Tour, and Griffiths; director Nicholas Hytner; and Best Play.

2007 Michael Smuin, 68, the founder and artistic director of the Smuin Ballet, who won a Tony Award for choreographing the hit 1987 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, dies of an apparent heart attack in San Francisco.

2009 A middle class English weekend gets complicated—in triplicate—by a randy Brit named Norman in the new Broadway production of Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests at Circle in the Square. Matthew Warchus directs the trio of comedies playing in repertory, in a production previously seen at London's Old Vic in 2008. The production wins the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

2013 Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful returns to the theatre where it premiered 60 years earlier, as a revival of the drama opens on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre (formerly known as Henry Miller's Theatre). Directed by Michael Wilson, the production stars Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Vanessa Williams. Tyson wins a Tony Award for her performance.

2014 Casa Valentina, Harvey Fierstein's play about an upstate colony where heterosexual men dress as women, opens on Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The cast includes Patrick Page, John Cullum, Reed Birney, and Mare Winningham.

2015 Chita Rivera returns to Broadway in her first original role in more than two decades as the star of John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Terrence McNally's The Visit, opening at the Lyceum Theatre. The musical is based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt's 1956 play about a millionairess who returns to the town where she grew up to wreak revenge on the man who did her wrong back in her youth.

2017 A new musical stage adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opens its doors at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Christian Borle stars as mysterious candy inventor Willy Wonka. The score includes Leslie Bricusse-Anthony Newley songs from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, alongside new ones written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

2019 Tootsie, the musical adaptation of the classic '80s film comedy, opens at the Marquis. Starring Santino Fontana in the Dustin Hoffman role, the Scott Ellis–helmed musical (with a score by David Yazbek) takes home Tony Awards for Fontana's performance and Robert Horn's book.

More of Today's Birthdays: David Birney 1939. Blair Brown 1947. Henry Goodman 1950. Melina Kanakaredes (b. 1967). David Larsen (b. 1980). Savannah Wise (b. 1984).

Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, Condola Rashad and Cuba Gooding Jr. Star in Broadway's The Trip to Bountiful

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