Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: May 4 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: May 4 In 1993 Tony Kushner's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches opens on Broadway.
Stephen Spinella and Ellen McLaughlin in Angels in America. Joan Marcus

1859 Birthday of A.L. Erlanger who, as half of the team of Klaw and Erlanger, produced dozens of Broadway shows during the first three decades of the 20th century, including Dracula, Peg o' My Heart, and The Jazz Singer.

1891 Opening night of the musical extravaganza Wang, starring DeWolf Hopper.

1943 Geraldine Fitzgerald, Gregory Peck, Stella Adler, and Karl Malden are cast members in Sons and Soldiers. Irwin Shaw's drama about a woman told she might die if she has children is staged by Max Reinhardt. It runs for 22 performances at Broadway's Morosco Theatre.

1976 It will be a short visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Alan Jay Lerner's musical about former presidents and their wives lasts just seven performances. Leonard Bernstein composes the score.

1976 Side by Side by Sondheim is exactly that in the revue filled with songs by Stephen Sondheim. Ned Sherrin (who also stages), Millicent Martin, Julia McKenzie, and David Kernan make up the cast at London's Mermaid Theatre. It later moves to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre for 781 performances.

1982 Playwright-director Athol Fugard's "Master Harold"...and the Boys opens on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre. The play involves a white South African boy and his two Black servants and stars Lonny Price, Zakes Mokae, and Danny Glover.

1993 Tony Kushner's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches opens at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway. The first half of Kushner's soon-to-be Pulitzer and Tony Award winner stars Ron Leibman, Joe Mantello, Marcia Gay Harden, Stephen Spinella, Kathleen Chalfant, Jeffrey Wright, and David Marshall Grant.

1999 Having begun March 12, 1987, the Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg musical Les Misérables reaches its 5,000th performance. As of March 1999, nearly 400 shows had closed on Broadway since Les Misérables opened, and the on-stage turntable had made a dizzying 159,744 revolutions. Les Misérables finally closes in May 2003, having played a total of 6,680 performances.

2003 Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke star in the PBS Hollywood Presents television version of D.L. Coburn's Pulitzer-winning drama The Gin Game.

2005 Christina Applegate dances the title role of Sweet Charity on opening night, just weeks after breaking her ankle in a fall during the show's out-of-town tryout.

2008 The hit London revival of Boeing-Boeing, Marc Camoletti's sex farce about a swinging bachelor and his three stewardess girlfriends, opens on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre. It stars Mark Rylance, Bradley Whitford, Christine Baranski, and Gina Gershon, and is directed by Matthew Warchus. Rylance wins the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play, and the production wins for Best Revival of a Play.

2008 Costume designer Alvin Colt dies at age 92. Colt designed costumes for more than 50 Broadway productions, and won a Tony Award for the 1955 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Pipe Dream.

2011 The Donmar Warehouse production of King Lear, starring Derek Jacobi in the title role, opens at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Michael Grandage directs the Shakespeare tragedy's month-long run.

2011 Sada Thompson, a Tony-winning stage and film actor known for her way with maternal and earthy characters, dies at age 83. Routinely described as one of her generation's finest actors, her breakout performance was in the original 1970 production of Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, and she won her Tony Award for her performance in Twigs.

2017 Exactly 24 years after Millennium Approaches opened on Broadway, Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane star in a London revival of Angels in America at the National Theatre. Marianne Elliott directs the production, which includes both Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, running in repertory. It wins the Olivier Award for Best Revival, and transfers to Broadway the following year.

More of Today's Birthdays: Shelton Brooks (1886-1975). Luther Adler (1903-1984). Howard Da Silva (1909-1986). Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993). Ana Gasteyer (b. 1967).

Watch Ana Gasteyer sing "Defying Gravity" from Wicked:

More Today in Theatre History

Blocking belongs
on the stage,
not on websites.

Our website is made possible by
displaying online advertisements to our visitors.

Please consider supporting us by
whitelisting with your ad blocker.
Thank you!