Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: November 6



1854 Birthday of Jean-Philippe Sousacomposer of countless marches, who also found time to write Broadway musicals, including Chris and the wonderful lamp (1900), The Freelancer (1906), and The Good American (1913). In The music man, it is his arrival in town that Professor Harold Hill describes in the song “76 Trombones”, written in the style of Sousa. Composer Meredith Willson played in Sousa’s band early in his career.

1899 Opening night at the Garrick Theater for Melodrama sherlock holmes written by and performed Guillaume Gilletbased on Arthur Conan Doyle stories about a brilliantly analytical detective. Gillette revives and spins the piece almost constantly over the next three decades. In all, the play was produced eight times on Broadway, most recently in 1974 with John Wood in Gillette’s signature role.

1905 Peter Pan flies over Broadway for the first time, in a production of James M. Barrie at the Empire Theatre, featuring maude adams in the title role. The play was revived seven times on Broadway over the next 50 years, then adapted twice as a musical (first by Leonard Bernstein, then by Moose Charlap and Jule Styne), which earned him more productions.

1911 Henrik Ibsenit is The lady of the sea gets its American premiere.

1931 Elmer Ricethe drama Legal Advisor opens on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre, with Paul Muni and Constance McKay. It remains for 416 performances.

1966 Jean-Claude Van Italliéthe production of three of his short satires, American Hoorayopens Off-Broadway at the Pocket Theater. Interview, TVand Motel are the three pieces and the cast includes Brenda Smiley, Ronnie Gilbert and Bill Macy. These plays on industrial America and urban life are directed by Joseph Chaikin and Jacques Levy and ran for 634 performances until the troupe had the opportunity to perform the plays at London’s Royal Court Theater in 1967.

1975 Seven years after receiving a special Tony Award for her groundbreaking and audience-favorite performance on Broadway Hello Dolly!, Pearl Bailey gets her own revival of the Jerry Herman-Michael Stewart musical, which opens today at the Minskoff Theater. Lucia Victor and Jack Craig recreate Gower Champion’s original direction and choreography (respectively) in this recreation of the original production. As she was during her stint in the original race, Bailey is joined by an all-black company, this time including Billy Daniels, Terrence Emanuel, Grenoldo Frazier, Chip Fields, Karen Hubbard and Mary Louise.

1988 An all-star cast includes the revival of Waiting for Godot at Lincoln Center Theaterof the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. The Samuel Beckett the clip is led by Mike Nichols and the stars Robin Williams and Steve Martinin the same way F. Murray Abraham and Bill Irwinbut only has a limited run of 25 performances.

2000 Interviews with exonerated death row inmates form the basis of Jessica Blank and Eric Jensen The exemptwhich features artists Richard DreyfussSteve Buscemi, Vincent D’OnofrioHazelle Goodman and Ruben Santiago-Hudson at the Cultural Project at 45 Bleecker. The play uses simple staging with the actors reading interconnected monologues based on the interviews. Two other evenings are interpreted by stars such as Susan SarandonTim Robin, Edie Falco, Sarah Jonesand David Morse.

2002 In an abrupt change of style, character and subject, the badass playwright David Mamet opens Boston weddinga Oscar WildeVictorian-style comedy of manners about two Victorian lesbians who indulge their jealousy of a pretty young intruder.

2003 The Biltmore Theater on Broadway gets its first opening night in 16 years when Richard Greenbergit is The purple hour bows before space, which has become the flagship of the Manhattan Drama Club after a multi-million dollar renovation.

2005 The close harmonies and personal dramas of the doo-wop group Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons are transformed into an audience-pleasing musical, Boys jerseywhich becomes the dark horse winner of the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical. John Lloyd Young and Christian Hoff also won Tony Awards for their respective performances as Frankie Valli and Tommy DeVito, and the show ran on Broadway for 4,642 performances.

2010 A group of around thirty picket The Scottsboro Boys, claiming that the musical, which uses the conventions of 19th-century minstrel shows, is racist. Director Susan Stroman is quoted in The New York Times responding that the show’s creators “did not celebrate minstrel lore but rather used it to expose the evils of the system”.

2011 The world premiere of Michael John La Chiusait’s musical mist queen opens at the Judson Memorial Church gymnasium. Presented by The Transport Group, the production stars Mary Testa as Anna Edson Taylor, the first person to survive a trip to Niagara Falls in a barrel.

More birthdays from today: Gus Kahn (1886-1941). Ole Olsen (1892-1963). Juanita Room (1901–1968). Ruth Selwyn (1905-1954). Jonathan Harris (1914-2002). Pierre Matz (1928-2002). Mike Nichols (1931-2014). Sally Field (born in 1946). Michel Cerveris (born in 1960). Eddie Korbich (born in 1960). Ethan Hawke (born in 1970). Miller Patina (born in 1984). Emma Stone (born in 1988).


Revisit the original Broadway production of Jersey Boys

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