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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: July 20

1961 Stop The World—I Want To Get Off opens at the Queen’s Theatre in London’s West End. The musical, which features a book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and its star, Anthony Newley, follows the life of one man from birth to death. It runs 485 performances. A Broadway production opens at the Shubert Theatre on October 3, 1962, where it runs for 555 performances.

1987 Charles Busch‘s sendup of beach movies, Psycho Beach Party, opens Off-Broadway at the Players Theatre. Busch himself is among the cast of the lampoon directed by Kenneth Elliott. It rides the waves for 344 performances and closes May 15 the following year.

2000 The high-altitude comedy The Man in the Flying Lawn Chair officially opens at Off-Off-Broadway’s 78th Street Theatre Lab, conceived and directed by Artistic Director Eric Nightengale. The piece follows the life of Larry Walters, who, with the help of 50 surplus weather balloons, launched himself to the height of 16,000 feet in an aluminum lawn chair.

2000 The world premiere production of They All Laughed! opens at Goodspeed in Connecticut. Marla Schaffel and James Ludwig star in the show, which draws its score from the Gershwin 1926 Broadway musical Oh, Kay! and other Gershwin properties, with a libretto by Joe DiPietro. The show would go on to be revised and open on Broadway as Nice Work If You Can Get It in 2012.

2005 Mary Stuart opens in London at the Donmar Warehouse, starring Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter. Featuring a new translation by Peter Oswald, the Friedrich Schiller play stars McTeer in the title role opposite Walter as Queen Elizabeth I. The production transferred to the West End in 2006 and eventually opened on Broadway in 2009, earning seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Revival of a Play.

2007 The movie musical adaptation of Hairspray, directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman, opens in cinemas across America. It features newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad alongside a star-studded cast including John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, and Zac Efron. The film is based on the 2002 Broadway Tony-winning musical with a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, which itself is adapted from John Waters’ 1988 film.

2008 A five-person ensemble staging of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days opens at the Irish Repertory Theatre. The quintet play over 35 different characters in the adventurous tale.

2011 Barrington Stage Company presents the world premiere of Mormons, Mothers and Monsters, a new musical with a book and lyrics by Sam Salmond and music by Will Aronson. Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, the cast features Stanley Bahorek, Jill Abramovitz, and Adam Monley.

2016 The Globe Theatre of London’s acclaimed 2015 production of The Merchant of Venice, starring Tony Award winner Jonathan Pryce, begins New York performances at the Rose Theater as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Jonathan Munby directs the production on a set that recreates the Globe stage.

Today’s Birthdays: Pavel Kohout (b. 1928), Sally Ann Howes (b. 1930), Diana Rigg (b. 1938), Michael Park (b. 1968), Sandra Oh (b. 1971).

Watch highlights from The Merchant of Venice, starring Jonthan Pryce:

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