Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: December 6

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1896 Birthday of Ira Gershwin, one of Broadway’s most brilliant lyricists, working mostly with his brother George Gershwin. Ira’s musicals include Porgy and Bess; Of you I sing; Madam, be good; Funny head; Oh Kay! ; Crazy girl; lady in the dark; and in adaptations after his death, My one and only, crazy about you, never gonna dance, and good job if you can get it.

1916 For His soldier boy, Rida Johnson Young adapts his book to Emmerich Kalman‘s score, with additional music by Sigmund Romberg. The story of a soldier returning from war opens in the Astor Theater. It lasts 198 performances.

1939 What dreams does a male room attendant in a nightclub dream of? If this attendant is Bert Lahrhe dreams that he is Louis XV and it must be Du Barry was a lady. Ethel Triton co-stars. Cole Porter provides the music and lyrics for the book written by B.G. De Sylva and Fields of Herbert.

1944 The right time A bell for Adano rings at the Cort Theatre. Frederic March stars as an American officer trying to help the defeated Italians rebuild their lives. Paul Osborne adapts John HerseyThe Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

1956 Ethel Merman stars as an American widow who travels to Monaco in search of a husband for her daughter and an invitation to Grace Kelly’s wedding for herself in Good hunt, which opens today at the Majestic Theatre. Although the production ran for 412 performances, Merman would consider the production a failure due to a score from the untested duo of Harold Karr and Matt Dubey. The experience would inspire him to later reject Stephen Sondheim as composer-lyricist of Gypsypairing him as lyricist with more-than-established composer Jule Styne instead.

1972 Jennie Linden is my fat friend, at the Globe Theater in London. the Charles Lawrence the game continues until the following season.

1991 It is announced that the Dutch have decided to sell the Mark Hellinger Theater to the Church in Times Square, as it remains to this day. The Hellinger was the theater where Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison starred in the original Broadway production of my lovely lady in 1956.

2001 Less than three months after the September 11 attacks, the downtown Flea Theater is opening a new play about a fire chief trying to compose eulogies for his dead men. Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray star. The boys becomes a long-running success and is adapted for the cinema.

2004 Ocean Jewel, the ninth play in August Wilson’s Century Cycle opens at the Walter Kerr Theater with the Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and LisaGay Hamilton, with John Earl Jelks and Raynor Scheine. Kenny Leon directed. The story, set in 1904, begins on the eve of the 287th birthday of Aunt Ester (a recurring character in Wilson’s play cycle). Citizen Barlow, a man in spiritual turmoil, arrives at Aunt Ester’s home in the Pittsburgh district and soon embarks on a spiritual journey to find the mythical City of Bones.

2009 Playwright David Mamet confronts the issue of racial prejudice in America with his drama Racewhich opens on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. James Spader, David Alan Grier, Kerry Washingtonand Richard Thomas star in the play about a law firm with a white partner and a black partner taking on the case of a white man accused of a sex crime against a black woman.

2011 The East Village scene of New York Theater Workshop takes the form of a Dublin pub – complete with liquor bottles, smoky mirrors and sepia-toned incandescent bulbs – for the Manhattan premiere of the Irish folkloric musical Once, based on the hit independent film. With the music of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglovaand featuring Steve Kazee and Cristin Miliotithe production Broadway transfers the following year, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

2012 A revival of golden boy, Clifford Odet‘ 1937 drama about a young musician who bets on his own artistic dreams when he enters a boxing ring, opens at the Belasco Theater. Directed by Bartlett Sherit stars Seth Numrich in the central role of Joe Bonaparte.

2015 School of Rock – The MusicalAndrew Lloyd Webber’s first new show to open on Broadway in a decade, opens at the Winter Garden Theater, where his Cats raced for almost 18 years. The musical is based on the 2003 film about a broken down rock guitarist who gets a job as a substitute teacher. Alex Brightman and Sierra Boggess star.

2018 Bryan Cranston returns to Broadway in a stage adaptation of the 1976 film Network, opening at the Belasco Theater. The production, first seen at the National Theater in London the previous year, is directed by Ivo van Hove and has a screenplay by Lee Hall, based on the screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky. Cranston wins a Tony Award for his performance as news anchor Howard Beale.

More birthdays from today: E. H. Sothern (1859-1933). Lynn Fontanne (1887-1983). Herman Shumlin (1898-1979). Joseph Bouloff (1900-1985). Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974). Wally Cox (1924-1973). Bobby Van (1928-1980). James Naughton (born in 1945). Tom Hulce (born in 1953). Jack Thorne (born in 1978).

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Production Photos: A First Look at Network on Broadway


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