Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: December 19

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1865 Birthday of Mary Augusta Davey, who acts as Minnie Maddern, Minnie Maddern Fiske and Mrs. Fiske. Performer, director and producer of many dramas before and after the turn of the 20th century, including Becky Sharp, Tess d’Urbervilles, Hedda Gabler, The Light of Saint Agnesand The eyes of the heart.

1902 Actor Ralph Richardson was born in Gloucestershire, England. He made his stage debut in 1921 as Lorenzo in The merchant of Veniceand became one of Britain’s major players after World War II.

1910 John Genet, which chronicles the outcasts of society, was born in Paris, France. His works include The Maids, The Balcony, The Screensand Black peoplethe last of which has an extensive Off-Broadway tour in the 1960s.

1919 For Defense details the shooting of a sinister hypnotist, the trial of an innocent girl, and the lawyer who loves her. the Elmer Rice melodrama stars Winifred Lenihan and Richard Bennett.

1933 Owen DavisJezebel, about a high-spirited Southern belle whose decision to wear a scarlet dress destroys her life, opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theater and remains for just 32 performances. It becomes a major hit, however, when Bette Davis won an Oscar for the 1938 film adaptation.

1951 Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh open a limited engagement of George Bernard Shawit’s Caesar and Cleopatra at the Ziegfeld Theater, in the repertoire with william shakespeareit’s Antony and Cleopatra. The production sells out more than half of its 67 performances before opening night.

1957 Robert Preston and Barbara Cook go down in the history of musical theater The music man which opens at the Majestic Theatre. Meredith Willson takes on the writing solo, penning the book, lyrics and score of a story that he and Franklin Lacey designed. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical and went on for 1,375 performances.

1985 A musical version of the children’s classic Wind in the willows opens a disappointing 4-performance run at the Nederlander Theater, but features a cast that includes Nathan Lane like a toad, David Carroll like Rat, Vicky Lewis like mole, PJ Benjamin as Chief Weasel, and a supporting cast that includes Nora Mae Lyng, John Jellison, Donna Drakeand Scott Waara.

1989 Dustin Hoffman plays Shylock in a major revival of Shakespeare The merchant of Venice. Highlight: one of Shylock’s executioners spits on him in the face.

1991 patrick stuart presents his vacation solo reading/performance of Charles DickensA Christmas Carol, in which Stewart plays all the roles. Stewart later repeated her performance in three Broadway revivals, in 1992, 1994 and 2001.

1996 Sarah Jessica Parker plays the clumsy Princess Winifred in a Broadway revival of Once upon a time there was a mattress. It organized 188 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

1997 Mary Osmond makes her Broadway debut as Anna in The king and me. Osmond replaces prince of faithwho was the first replacement after the production’s original Anna, the Tony Award winner Donna Murphy.

2001 Barely three months after the September 11 attacks, the winner of the Pulitzer Tony Kushner opens his play on Afghan politics and terrorism, Homebody/Kabul, Off Broadway at New York Theater Workshop.

2011 The world premiere of Molly Smith Metzler’s comedy close spacefeaturing the Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce as a harassed book publisher, open to Manhattan Drama ClubThe New York City Center Stage I Off-Broadway House.

2013 The world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christopher Hamptonand Don Blackit’s music Stephen Ward opens at the Aldwych Theater in the West End. Alexander Hanson stars in the title role, opposite Charlotte Spencer and Joanna Riding. The show traces the rise and fall of society osteopath Stephen Ward, whose affair with the young and beautiful Christine Keeler led to one of the biggest scandals and political trials of the 20th century. It received mixed reviews and closed after a run of less than four months.

More birthdays from today: Cicely Tyson (born in 1924). Robert B. Sherman (1925-2012). Mark “Moose” Charlap (1928-1974). Mel Gussow (1933-2005). Elaine Joyce (born in 1945). Scott Cohen (born in 1961). Marie-Catherine Garrison (born in 1973). Jake Gyllenhaal (born in 1980).

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Once upon a time there was a mattress on Broadway


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