Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: September 14


1910 Birthday of Lehman Engel, the award-winning Broadway conductor who founded the BMI Musical Theater Workshop. Among the shows he directs are the original productions of Wonderful Town, Fanny, Li’l Abner, Do Re Mi, Call Me Misterand The consul. He won the Tony in 1953 for Outstanding Musical Director, an award which was later dropped.

1916 The Longacre Theater is hosting the opening of a new comedy by James Montgomery, Nothing but the truth. William Collier stars in the play that follows a stockbroker trying not to lie for 24 hours in order to win a $10,000 bet.

1925 The jazz singer by Samson Raphaelson opens at the Fulton Theatre. George Jessel embodies the son of the cantor, Jackie Rabinowitz, tempted to leave religious music by jazz. The melodrama had 303 performances and made history in 1927 as the first commercial sound film.

1936 After a summer break, the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 reopens at the Winter Garden Theatre. It contains songs from Duke of Vernon and Ira Gershwinand performance of Fanny Brice, Gypsy Rose Leeand Bob Hope.

1949 Treasure hunt, a comedy by M.J. Farrel and John Perry, opens at the Apollo Theater in London and tells the story of an aristocratic couple who decide to host paying guests to maintain their nearly bankrupt estate. The play is directed by John Gielgud and the stars Sybil Thorndike, Alan Webband Marie Lohr.

1960 Bette Davis, clark allenand Leif Erickson take part in stage readings of The world of Carl Sandburg at the Henry Miller Theater.

1972 Jason Millerthe drama This league season, about a high school basketball team reuniting in which many long-buried truths are revealed, opens at the Booth Theater. The characteristics of the cast Charles Dunning, Paul Sorvino, Richard A. Dysartand Walter McGinn. The play went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

1980 Charles Strouse provides music for Charlie and Algeron, which opens at the Helen Hayes Theatre. The musical is based on the same source material as the 1968 film Charlyabout a mentally challenged man who is temporarily turned into a genius.

1989 The first Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s musical Sweeney Todd opens at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Beth Fowler and Bob Gunton star in the production, which previously played a sold-out Off-Broadway engagement at the York Theater Company.

2000 Writer-performer Pamela Gien takes on 28 roles spanning four generations of South Africans, from apartheid to freedom, in Syringa tree at Off-Broadway’s Playhouse 91. The play won the 2001 Obie Award for Best Play and gave Gien a 2001 Drama Desk Award in the Solo Performance category.

2008 After an award-winning tour at the El Portal Theater in Los Angeles, The Marvelous Marvels opens at Off-Broadway’s Westside Theater Upstairs. Written and directed by Roger Bean, the musical features classic songs from the 50s and 60s in a throwback trip to Springfield High School’s 1958 prom.

2015 Nicole Kidman returns to the London stage in Anna Ziegler Photography 51opening at the Noel Coward Theatre.

2016 The world premiere of Mary and Rosetta by George Brant officially opens Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company. The show stars Rebecca Naomi Jones and Kecia Lewis, which plays famous gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, an influence for Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix.

More birthdays from today: A. E. Anson (1879–1936), John Halliday (1880–1947), Lehman Engel (1910–1982), Tom Pedi (1913–1996), Kay Medford (1919-1980), Zoe Caldwell (1933-2020), Nicholas Williamson (1936-2014).

Flip through photos of the three Broadway productions of Sweeney Todd:


Celebrate over 40 years of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd on Broadway

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