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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: May 9

1860 Birthday of James M. Barrie, British author and playwright whose creations include What Every Woman Knows, The Little Minister, The Admirable Crichton, and the work that makes him immortal, Peter Pan.

1921 Robert Atkins directs William Shakespeare‘s Pericles for Lilian Baylis at London’s Old Vic Theatre. This continues the cycle that began in 1914 and ends in 1923, when all 37 of the Bard’s works have been performed.

1940 Laurence Olivier produces, designs, directs, and stars in Romeo and Juliet on Broadway at the 51st Street Theatre. Playing Juliet to Olivier’s Romeo is his fiancée, Vivien Leigh.

1956 In The House by the Lake lives a woman who was saved from suicide by her husband years before through hypnosis. Now he plans to bring her to commit the act, again through hypnosis. Hugh Mills‘ thriller draws audiences for 928 performances at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.

1972 The children’s classic Tom Brown’s Schooldays is adapted by Joan and Jack Maitland with a score by Chris Andrews. Adam Walton and Roy Dotrice are in the cast at the Cambridge Theatre in London.

1978 Ain’t Misbehavin’, a revue based on the music of Fats Waller, opens at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway. Nell Carter, Ken Page, Charlaine Woodard, and André De Shields are in the cast. It wins the Tony Award for Best Musical and runs 1,604 performances.

1982 On the ninth day of May, Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston open their musical Nine at Broadway’s 46th Street Theatre. Tommy Tune directs a cast that includes Raúl Juliá and a slew of women, including Karen Akers, Anita Morris, and Liliane Montevecchi. The musical was inspired by the film 8 1/2 by Federico Fellini. Less than a month later, it wins the Tony Award for Best Musical.

1994 Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine‘s musical about obsessive love, Passion, opens on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre. Based on the 1981 film Passione D’Amore, it stars Marin Mazzie, Jere Shea, and Donna Murphy under Lapine’s direction. It runs 280 performances, and wins the Tony Award for Best Musical.

2005 The Broadway theatres long known as the Plymouth and the Royale are renamed by the Shubert Organization in honor of longtime leaders Gerald Schoenfeld and the late Bernard B. Jacobs.

2007 Audra McDonald and Steve Kazee star as spinster Lizzie Curry and con man Bill Starbuck in this first Broadway revival of 110 in the Shade since its 1963 main stem premiere. Based on the play The Rainmaker by N. Richard Nash, the musical features a book by Nash with lyrics and by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt.

2011 Lynn Nottage‘s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, about an African-American maid and her white movie-star employer in the Golden Age of Hollywood, opens Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theater. The world premiere production stars Sanaa Lathan as the title character, with Stephanie J. Block as her boss.

2012 Top Hat, a stage version of the 1935 film of the same name with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, opens at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre. The production, which stars Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen in the roles created in the film by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, wins the 2013 Olivier Award for Best Musical.

2019 MCC Theater celebrates the opening of the Off-Broadway premiere of Aziza Barnes’ BLKS. Robert O’Hara directs the new comedy, which follows a trio of 20something women hunting for intimacy and purpose in New York City. Leading the cast are Paige Gilbert, Alfie Fuller, and Antoinette Crowe-Legacy.

More of Today’s Birthdays Leonard Sillman (1908-1982). Fay Kanin (1917-2013). Alan Bennett (b. 1934). Albert Finney (1936-2019). Glenda Jackson (b. 1936). Candice Bergen (b. 1946). Justin Vivian Bond (b. 1963). Christopher Shinn (b. 1975). Grace Gummer (b. 1986).

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