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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: July 17

1966 Harold Prince’s short-lived It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman closes at the Alvin Theatre, having begun previews March 9. With a book by David Newman and Robert Benton, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams, the musical starred Bob Holiday as Superman/Clark Kent. The show earned three Tony nominations: Best Actor in a Musical for Jack Cassidy, Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Michael O’Sullivan, and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Patricia Marand.

1985 Benn W. Levy‘s Springtime for Henry is revived Off-Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company at the Christian C. Yegen Theatre. Peter Evans, Tovah Feldshuh, George N. Martin, and Jodi Thelen comprise the cast of the production helmed by Tony Tanner. (The play’s title is the inspiration for the supposed über-flop Springtime for Hitler in Mel Brooks‘ 1968 film and 2001 Broadway musical The Producers.)

2000 Christmas in July! Paul Blake adapts the 1954 Irving Berlin movie musical, White Christmas, for the stage. Charles Repole directs the world premiere of the show at The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri. The show has a cast that features Howard Keel, Karen Mason, Lee Roy Reams, and Lara Teeter.

2001 Broadway finds itself full of Bologna today, as husband-and-wife acting team Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor bring their two-person stage memoir to the Cort Theatre. It is titled If You Ever Leave Me…I’m Going with You!

2008 [title of show]—the musical that would rather be nine people’s favorite thing than 100 people’s ninth favorite thing—opens at the Lyceum Theatre. Originally produced at the Vineyard Theatre in 2006, the entire original cast—including co-creators Jeff Bowen (score) and Hunter Bell (book) as well as co-stars Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff—make the leap to the Broadway stage with the show.

2018 A new musical version of Twelfth Night begins at the Delacorte in Central Park. Conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, the adaptation is directed by Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Kwei-Armah with choreography by Lorin Latarro. The cast features Ato Blankson-Wood as Orsino, Nikki M. James as Viola, Andrew Kober as Malvolio, Shuler Hensley as Sir Toby Belch, and co-creator Taub as Feste. The Shakespeare musical was first performed as part of the Public Works program in 2016. Also on this day, Ivo van Hove’s adaptation of The Damned, based on the 1969 Oscar-nominated movie of the same name, begins performances at the Park Avenue Armory. It receives raves reviews.

2019 Luis Alfaro’s Mojada opens at The Public Theater Off-Broadway. Sabina Zúñiga Varela stars. Directed by Chay Yew, the play follows a young Mexican mother who gives up everything to bring her son to America.

Today’s Birthdays: Lucie Arnaz (b. 1951), James Cagney (1899–1986), Diahann Carroll (1935–2019), Phyllis Diller (1917–2012), Grace Durkin (1914–1991), Ethyl Eichelberger (1945–1990), David Hasselhoff (b. 1952), Mimi Hines (b. 1933), Donald Sutherland (b. 1935).

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