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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: July 12

1895 Birthday of Oscar Hammerstein II, scion of a notable theatrical family who becomes its most famous and honored member as a lyricist and librettist. Hammerstein enjoys a major career as lyricist for composer Jerome Kern on many musicals and operettas, most notably Show Boat. After a series of flops in the 1930s and the death of Kern in the early 1940s, Hammerstein launches into a second career, and one of the greatest partnerships in American musical theatre history, with composer Richard Rodgers. Hammerstein writes lyrics to classics including Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, among others. He also serves as mentor to a friend of his children, whom he recruits as go-fer on his 1947 musical Allegro. The young man who resolves to follow in Hammerstein’s footsteps? Stephen Sondheim.

1984 The Roundabout Theatre Company revives William Inge‘s Come Back, Little Sheba at its Off-Broadway theatre. Philip Bosco, Mia Dillon, Shirley Knight, and Steven Weber are in the cast directed by Paul Weidner. The production marks the first major revival of the play in more than 30 years.

1993 Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s new musical Sunset Boulevard has its world premiere in London starring Patti LuPone.

1995 Something Wonderful, a one-night-only 100th birthday tribute to Oscar Hammerstein II, sells out the Gershwin Theatre with performances by Michel Bell, Liz Callaway, Rebecca Luker, Audra McDonald, and Maureen McGovern.

2000 Charles Nelson Reilly celebrates his 50th year in showbiz with Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly, opening at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, California. The autobiographical solo show, directed by Paul Linke, looks back at the life of the ascot-adorned actor from his fourth-grade portrayal of Christopher Columbus to his Tony Award-winning turn in the original production of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying to his appearances on TV’s Match Game.

2001 The Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of George Bernard Shaw‘s classic Major Barbara opens on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre. Cherry Jones stars as the good Salvation Army major who must fight against her heritage as the daughter of a joyfully wicked (and maddeningly articulate) Victorian industrialist.

2012 As part of its world tour, Fela! returns to Broadway for a month-long run at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. The musical that explores the life of Nigerian musician and political figure Fela Anikulapo-Kuti previously played Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre for 463 performances from 2009 through 2011.

2013 Fly, a new musical based on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, officially opens at the Dallas Theater Center. Tony Award-winning producer Jeffrey Seller makes his directorial debut, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, music by Tony-winning In the Heights orchestrator/arranger Bill Sherman, book by Rajiv Joseph and lyrics by Joseph and Kirsten Childs.
2016 The musical Motown returns to Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre. The production was originally seen on Broadway in 2013, where it ran at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre for 738 performances.

2016 Ektor Rivera makes his Broadway debut, stepping into the role of Emilio Estefan in On Your Feet!.

2018 Second Stage Theater celebrates the official opening of Mary Page Marlowe, the new play by Tony-winning playwright and actor Tracy Letts that pieces together a portrait of a woman from 11 key moments in her life—told out of chronological order and portrayed by six different actors: Blair Brown, Emma Geer, Tatiana Maslany, Susan Pourfar, Mia Sinclair Jenness, and Kellie Overbey. Lila Neugebauer directs.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Milton Berle (1908–2002). Joey Faye (1909–1997). John Lahr (b. 1941). Jamey Sheridan (b. 1951). Cheyenne Jackson (b. 1975). Anna Friel (b. 1976). Alison Wright (b. 1976).

Watch Jonathan Groff and Laura Osnes sing a medley of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs:

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