Friday, March 9, 2012

The Past Week In Theatre History (Mar 5 - Mar 9)

The Past Week In Theatre History: March 5 - March 9
By Robert Viagas, David Gewirtzman,
Ernio Hernandez and Anne Bradley

1920    Ziegfeld Girls of 1920 enjoys a 78-performance run at the New Amsterdam Roof Theatre. This revue also boasts the talents of Fannie Brice, W.C. Fields, and Lillian Lorraine.

1932    Bert Lahr and Lupe Velez star in Hot-Cha! a musical by Mark Hellinger, Ray Henderson and Lew Brown. It runs 119 performances at the Ziegfeld Theatre. It's the last original musical produced by impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, who dies four months later.

1933    Maxwell Anderson indicts Both Your Houses, a political story at the Royale Theatre. Morris Carnovsky is in the cast of this Theatre Guild production. It will go on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

1960    At the movies, Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" was opening, but star Anthony Perkins was returning to the stage to make his musical debut in Frank Loesser's Greenwillow. The production opens today at Broadway's Alvin Theatre.

1966    The English Stage Company is served 18 summonses as a result of William Gaskill's production of Edward Bond's controversial play, Saved. Lord Chamberlain had demanded certain changes be made; the company did not comply. Bond and the company are forced to pay costs.

1967    This is the first time someone says You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz's characters come to life in this Clark Gesner musical. It will run Off-Broadway at Theatre 80 St. Marks Place for 1,597 performances. 1999 will see a Broadway revival of the show, featuring Kristin Chenoweth as a newly-added character, CB's sister, Sally.

1974    The two surviving members of the Andrews Sisters, Patti and Maxine, are featured in Over Here!, a musical set in the world of USO shows during World War II. The supporting cast includes future stars John Travolta, Janie Sell, Ann Reinking, Treat Williams and Samuel E. Wright.

1978    Carol Channing reprises the role of Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi which she originated in 1964 in a revival of Hello, Dolly! at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. She will reprise the role once again at the same theatre 17 years later.

1978    Brian Clark ponders Whose Life Is It, Anyway? His drama stars Tom Conti as a paralyzed man eager to end his life. After a run at London's Mermaid Theatre it will transfer to the Savoy for a run of 672 performances. The following year, Tom Conti will win a Tony for the role on Broadway. Then a return engagement in 1980 changes the lead character's gender for Mary Tyler Moore.

1978    Encompass Theatre, an off-off Broadway group, launches a series of plays titled Hear Their Voices: Women Founders of the American Theatre, 1910-1945.

1983    The "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" ballet comes to life once more as the Rodgers and Hart musical, On Your Toes, is revived on Broadway at the Virginia Theatre. The revival will outrun its predecessor to play 505 performances and close May 20, 1984.

1983    John Byrne's Slab Boys, about workers who are responsible for kneading ground pigments into smooth paint for designers, opens at the Playhouse Theatre on Broadway. The play stars some young men who become Hollywood hotshots: Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Val Kilmer.

1986    At the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of Hamlet, Kevin Kline will inhabit the "distracted globe" of the Bard's immortal counterpart. The stageplay will open at Joseph Papp's Public Theatre and close May 11.

1989    Hizzoner!, starring Tony Lo Bianco as New York mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, closes faster than burlesque. After opening Feb. 24, Paul Shyre's monodrama runs only 12 performances.

1989    Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to find he's been turned into a giant cockroach. It was a punchline in The Producers, but Franz Kafka's story Metamorphosis becomes an actual Broadway drama today, starring Mikahil Baryshnikov as Gregor. it runs 96 performances at the Barrymore Theatre.

1989    Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles opens today at the Plymouth Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama stars Joan Allen and becomes something of a landmark in plays by and about modern American women.

1993    Jeffrey, Paul Rudnick's "AIDS comedy," as one reviewer calls it, opens Off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre. It stars John Michael Higgins and will run through Jan. 16, 1994.

1999    In 1930s Nazi Germany, a popular musical group with three Jewish members is literally Band in Berlin. The sextet Hudson Shad portray the Comedian Harmonists. This musical, written and co-conceived by Susan Feldman, opens tonight at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York. Feldman and Patricia Birch share staging duties.

1999    Everybody's Ruby, Thulani Davis' drama based on a true murder and the writer, Zora Neale Hurston, who covered the trial, opens tonight at the Joseph Papp Public/Anspacher Theater. Phylicia Rashad, of "Cosby Show" fame, stars with staging by Kenny Leon.

1999    Don't be afraid... Night Must Fall. Or maybe you should be. Matthew Broderick stars as Danny, smiling and sinister, in this revival of Emlyn Williams's 1936 thriller. Judy Parfitt and J. Smith-Cameron also star. John Tillinger directs at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre.

2002    Alan Manson dies today at age 83. The Broadway actor left the stage for the armed forces in World War II and landed a gig in the wartime show This Is the Army. He later played Ziegfeld to Streisand's Funny Girl on Broadway.

2002    Leonard Gershe, author of the play Butterflies Are Free, the 1969 Broadway comedy that launched the career of Blythe Danner, dies at 79.

2003    From Britain's Royal National Theatre comes Vincent in Brixton, a portrait of artist Vincent Van Gogh as a young man (Jochum ten Haaf), struggling to support himself as an art dealer, falling in love with an older woman (Clare Higgins), absorbing images that he will someday turn into masterpieces.

2003    At midnight, Local 802 of the musicians union goes on strike against nearly all Broadway musicals, shutting them down in a dispute over the minimum number of musicians required at Broadway theatres. In the afternoon, actors and stagehands announce they will not cross picket lines.

2004    London stage star Elaine Paige makes a rare New York appearance, playing Mrs. Lovett in the New York City Opera production of Sweeney Todd opposite Mark Delavan.

2004    New York City Police remove a body from the East River subsequently identified as that of actor and monologuist Spalding Gray, who had been missing since Jan. 10 in what will be ruled a suicide. On March 9, Broadway theatres will dim their lights to salute the author of Swimming to Cambodia, A Slipperly Slope, Monster in a Box, Gray's Anatomy and other solo shows.

2005    James "Jim" W. Tyler, Jr., a Broadway orchestrator who created the brassy sound of La Cage aux Folles, and worked on many more musicals, dies at age 76.

2008    Debbie Allen's all-black revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring Anika Noni Rose as Maggie and James Earl Jones as Big Daddy, opens at the Broadhurst Theatre. The production also features Phylicia Rashad as Big Mama and Terrence Howard as Brick.

2008    Following a 2007 Off-Broadway run at 37 Arts, In The Heights opens at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote and stars in the show about life among the Latino residents of Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood, along with Mandy Gonzalez, Karen Olivo and Priscilla Lopez. The production will go on to win four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

2009    Anna Manahan, the Tony winning Irish actress who played the monstrous mother Mag in Broadway's The Beauty Queen of Leenane, dies at age 84.

2009    33 Variations, writer-director Moisés Kaufman's music-infused play that lured Jane Fonda back to Broadway after a 46-year absence, opens at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.

2010    Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, opens at the West End's Adelphi Theatre. Set at the Coney Island fairgrounds 10 years after The Phantom disappeared from the Paris Opera House, the musical stars Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom, and Sierra Boggess as Christine. 

This Week's Birthdays: Oscar Strauss 1870.  Lou Costello 1908.  Rex Harrison 1908.  Cyd Charisse 1921.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1928.  Joyce Van Patten 1934.  David Cryer 1936.  Charles Fuller 1939.  Raul Julia 1940.  Beau Bridges 1941.  Lynn Redgrave 1943.  Carole Bayer Sager 1947.  Elaine Paige 1948.  Penn Jillette 1955.  Lonny Price 1959.  Vicki Lewis 1960

This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that happen this week in theatre history, that post would be WAY longer than this one. To see more check out the "Today in Theatre History" blog posts on



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