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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: June 22

1920 Opening night of the Ziegfeld Follies of 1920 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, featuring performances by Fanny Brice, W.C. Fields, and Moran & Mack; and music by Irving Berlin, Harry Tierney, and Victor Herbert. It runs 123 performances.

1921 Birthday of Joseph Papp, founder and longtime executive director of the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater. Aside from the annual free productions of Shakespeare in New York’s Central Park, Papp’s NYSF presents annual subscription seasons of works by two generations of theatre artists, with a special emphasis on work by and about minorities. Productions under his auspices include A Chorus Line, Hair, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Pirates of Penzance, and That Championship Season.

1964 Geraldine Page, Kim Stanley, and Shirley Knight star in Anton Chekhov‘s The Three Sisters on Broadway at the Morosco Theatre. The Actors Studio Theatre production is directed by Lee Strasberg.

1965 A musical classic returns to the New York stage as the Music Theater of Lincoln Center revives Kismet at the New York State Theater. Alfred Drake returns to the role he originated in the Broadway production of the musical for the length of its six-week run.

1976 Godspell opens at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre following a 2,124 performance Off-Broadway run. The Stephen Schwartz musical directed and conceived by John-Michael Tebelak is based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. It closes on September 4, 1977, after 527 performances.

1978 The gay-themed revue, Crimes Against Nature, begins a 10-week engagement at the Actors Playhouse in New York. Created by the Gay Men’s Theatre Collective of San Francisco, the show deals with both current events and more personal homosexual concerns.

1998 Seven playwrights, commissioned by the New York-based The Acting Company, see their Love’s Fire open at Off-Broadway’s Public Theater. John Guare, Marsha Norman, Eric Bogosian, William Finn, Tony Kushner, Ntozake Shange, and Wendy Wasserstein were all asked to contribute one-act plays inspired by William Shakespeare‘s sonnets. The result, directed by Mark Lamos, plays a limited run through July 5.

2006 The north half of Times Square becomes a construction zone as the building at the corner of 46th Street and Seventh Avenue, which for decades housed a Howard Johnson’s restaurant and the Off-Broadway Duffy Theatre, is torn down and the 1974-vintage TKTS discount ticket booth in Father Duffy Square is dismantled. TKTS moves to a temporary space in the ground floor of the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The landmark statue of George M. Cohan is encased in plywood for the duration.

2011 Miche Braden stars in The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith at St. Luke’s Theatre Off-Broadway. Written by Angelo Parra, with conception and direction by Joe Brancato, the staging stars Braden as the famed singer whose career was cut tragically short by a car crash in 1937.

2011 Tony Speciale’s Unnatural Acts debuts Off-Broadway starring Roe Hartrampf, Jess Burkle, Frank De Julio, Nick Westrate, Joe Curnutte, and Will Rogers. The story of Harvard’s secret court to expel gay students from the Ivy League plays at Classic Stage Company.

2016 Samuel D. Hunter’s The Healing has its world premiere Off-Broadway at Theatre Row’s Clurman Theatre. The Obie-winning playwright’s newest work reunites a group of friends who met at a summer camp 25 years ago, where the head counselor led them to believe their disabilities would be cured through the power of prayer.

2017 An Off-Broadway revival of Horton Foote’s The Traveling Lady opens at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Austin Pendleton directs a cast including Lynn Cohen, Jill Tanner, and Tony winner Karen Ziemba.

2017 The world premiere of Bastard Jones opens at the cell, starring Evan Ruggiero. Based on the novel The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling by Henry Fielding, the musical features a book by Marc Acito, music by Amy Engelhardt, and lyrics by Acito and Engelhardt.

2017 An intense and graphic staging of George Orwell‘s 1984, adapted and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, opens on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre. Reed Birney, Tom Sturridge, and Olivia Wilde star in the production, which was first seen in the U.K. After reports that the disturbing staging is causing audience members to faint, the producers announce that no one under the age of 13 will be allowed to enter the theatre.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Jack Whiting (1901–1961), David Burns (1902–1971), Billy Wilder (1906–2002), Katherine Dunham (1909–2006) Michael Todd (1909–1958), Gower Champion (1919–1980), Ralph Waite (1928–2014), John Cunningham (b. 1932), Meryl Streep (b. 1949), Cyndi Lauper (b. 1953)

Watch highlights from the 2011 Broadway revival of Godspell:

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