6--Jonathan Larson wrote for the theater for fourteen years with nods of encouragement here and there but with no breakthrough until a forty thousand dollar grant that helped fund a workshop of his musical, Rent. On the eve of the show's first preview, after much encouragement from friends and an off-the-record compliment from a reporter at the New York Times, he died at home of an aortic aneurism at the age of 35. The show would go on to win every major award that year including several Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It would transfer to Broadway in April, 1996 and play until September, 2008, becoming the seventh longest-running show in Broadway history. It would be performed in theaters around the world and influence countless other composers including this year's Tony winner, Lin Manuel Miranda. It would also retain its power to provoke--just this February, the decision to ban the musical by a principal of a high school in Orange County sparked outrage. The production was reinstated.
7--Gower Champion, the director of Bye, Bye Birdie and Hello, Dolly, died hours before his final show, 42nd Street, officially opened. The shrewd and frequently outrageous producer, David Merrick, the "Abominable Showman," waited until the end of several curtain calls before shocking the cast and audience with the news. That stunt ensured the musical landed on the front page of The New York Times multiple times that week. 42nd Street would go on to play 3486 performances.