This Week in Broadway History:
April 27 - May 3
April 27, 1986: Hey, big spender! The Bob Fosse directed revival of Sweet Charity starring Debbie Allen opened at the Minskoff and stayed there for 369 performances.
April 28, 1988: Checkmate! One of the most beloved flops in modern Broadway history, Chess, opened at the Imperial Theatre and played a mere 68 performances.
April 29, 1996: Roger lit Mimi's candle 5,123 times at the Nederlander, where Jonathan Larson' Rent set records and became Broadway's mega-hit of the 90s.
April 30,2009: Another beloved flop, 9 to 5 featuring a knockout score by Dolly Parton opened at the Marquis Theatre for a run of just 149 performances.
May 1, 1988: One of my very favorite "little" Broadway musicals, Romance/Romance opened at the Helen Hayes Theatre. This charmer starring Alison Fraser and Scott Bakula played an impressive 297 performances - considering that Phantom and Into the Woods were also big new shows.
May 2, 2005: S. Y. Z. Y. G. Y. Syzygy. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee took place at the Circle in the Square 1,136 times!
May 3, 1993: And the moon grows dimmer... Aurora gave Molina the Kiss of the Spider Woman 904 times at the Broadhurst Theatre before the Best Musical of 1993 closed.
April 27: actor Patrick Page (Hadestown), playwright August Wilson (Fences), choreographer/dancer Jack Cole (Man of La Mancha)
April 28: author Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), actor Lionel Barrymore (The Jest, Macbeth)
April 29: actor Celeste Holm (the original Ado Annie - Oklahoma!), composer Duke Ellington (Sophisticated Ladies)
April 30: lyricist Edward Kleban (A Chorus Line), costume designer Jane Greenwood (Passion, The Little Foxes), lyricist Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me)
Christine Baranski Sheldon Harnick
Harper Lee Chase Peacock
May 1: actor Chase Peacock (American Idiot), actor Isabel Keating (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Boy From Oz), playwright Yasmina Reza (Art, God of Carnage)
May 2: actor Kate Baldwin (Hello, Dolly!, Big Fish), director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Inheritance), actor Christine Baranski (Nick & Nora, Rumors)
May 3: actor Taylor Trensch (Matilda, Curious Incident...), actor Dulé Hill (After Midnight, The Tap Dance Kid), actor Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll & Hyde)
📆ON BROADWAY THIS WEEK IN 1994📆
Sondheim fans know that seeing his shows in previews offer opportunities to see cut songs and other big changes. In 1994, those fans would have had a field day, as his new musical Passion was deep in previews at the Plymouth Theatre. Had we known it would be his last (to date) musical, it may have run longer. Another show deep in previews was The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public over at the Lunt-Fontanne. (I actually saw it, and it was campy fun and knew it.) The other big "in previews" show proved to be much better for Tommy Tune than Whorehouse. The blockbuster revival of Grease was working out the kinks at the Eugene O'Neill, where it would stay for years.
The lavish Disney spectacular Beauty and the Beast proved to be the toughest ticket of the season over at the Palace. But it was revivals that got the most attention from ticket buyers, including She Loves Me, Joseph...Dreamcoat and Damn Yankees at the Brooks Atkinson, Minskoff and Marquis, respectively. But the granddaddy of revivals that year was Carousel at the Beaumont. At the time, we were just weeks away from Audra McDonald's first Tony. This was also your last chance to catch My Fair Lady at the Virginia, which closed on May 1. Turns out that the biggest hits from last season were really the ones that were filling seats - The Who's Tommy and Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Play fans had some great (and not so great) shows to catch this week, too, including the second part of the epic Angels in America, Perestroika. The first part, Millennium Approaches, was just as popular still at the Walter Kerr. Discounts were plentiful for the Joan Rivers vehicle, Sally Marr...and Her Escorts still in previews (at the Hayes), as was the case with the odd play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, which played twice as many previews as actual performances at the Neil Simon.