Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: December 28



1925 Queenie Smith is featured in Tiptoesthe George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin musical about a stranded vaudeville trio in Florida. It features the song “Sweet and Low Down” and takes place at the Liberty Theater.

1926 Twenty-four hours after the opening of the hit Peggy Ann, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart open their musical Betsya vehicle for a vaudeville performer Beautiful Baker, which bows at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Producer Florenz Ziegfeld apparently didn’t like his own show and voiced his opinion on the score by interpolating a IrvingBerlin tune that has become a standard: “Blue Skies”.

1927 George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferberthe comedy The Royal family opens at the Selwyn Theatre. It’s a thinly disguised portrait of the Barrymore acting dynasty.

1934 Birthday of Maggie Smith, who brings a majestic presence to stage and film on both sides of the Atlantic. His Broadway experience begins with New Faces of 1956and understand Private life, Night and dayand Lettuce and Lovage, the last of which won her the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. She receives a title from Queen Elizabeth II and is sometimes referred to as Dame Maggie Smith.

1938 Thornton Wilder launches his comedy The Yonkers Merchant. It has more success with the revised version, renamed The matchmaker in 1955, and even more success when it became the musical Hello Dolly! in 1964.

1944 Three sailors on shore leave in New York during World War II find romance and adventure in Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comdenand Adolf Greenit’s music On the city. Opening at the Adelphi Theatre, it runs for 462 performances.

1954 Clifford Odet paints a comic image of the Biblical Noah (of Ark fame) and his wife and children as a bickering middle-class Jewish family in The peach tree in bloom. Menasha Skulnik play Noah. It takes place at the Belasco Theater and is later adapted as a musical Two by two by Martin Charnin and Richard Rodgers. This is Odets’ last play on Broadway.

1961 Bette Davis, Margaret Leightonand Patrick O’Neal stars in the Broadway premiere of Tennessee WilliamsThe night of the iguana. It takes place at the Royal Theater.

1969 James Coco is the The Last of the Hot Red Lovers. neil simonThe comedy exposes a married man worried that the sexual revolution will happen without him.

1970 Lovely ladies, nice gentlemenbut no audience. Jean-Patrickthe musical adaptation of his play based on Vern Sneiderthe novel August Moon Teahouse lasts two weeks.

1976 fiddler on the roof is revived on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre. Zero Mostel recreates her role as Tevye.

1979 The life of Piaf takes the stage at the Aldwych Theater in London. Pam’s Gems scripted the Royal Shakespeare Company production of the French singer Edith Piaf. Jeanne Lapotaire stars. Gems scored another critical hit in 1997 with Stanleyfeaturing Anthony Sherat Circle in the Square.

1978 Eugene O’Neillit is A poet’s touch is revived at the Helen Hayes Theater with Jason Robards, Jr. and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

2015 i have to dance, a musical based on the 2008 documentary about the first-ever 60-plus professional basketball dance team, opens at the Bank of America Theater in Chicago. It contains a book of Chad Beguelin and Bob Martinmusic by Matthew Sklerwords of nell benjaminand additional music by the late Marvin Hamlisch. The cast includes Stefanie Powers, Andre DeShields, Georgia Engeland Lillias White.

More birthdays from today: Charles Dingle (1887-1956), Lou Jacobi (1913–2009). Hildegard Neff (1925–2002), Herb Gardner (1934–2003), Alan Wasser (1948–2019), Denzel Washington (born in 1954), malcolm gets (born in 1964), Heidi Blickenstaff (born in 1971), John Legend (born in 1978), André Holland (born in 1979).

Watch the best moments from the 2015 Chicago production of i have to dance:

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