Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: December 2

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1912 firefly sparkles the Lyric Theater with music by Rudolf Friml and lyrics and a book by Otto Harbach. The story of an Italian street singer who dresses up as a boy to be near the rich man she loves stars Emma Trentini, Craig Campbell and Audrey Maple.

1919 Imitation once again. This time Laurette Taylorthe character in A night in Rome poses as a fortune teller, L’Enigme, which forces a young man to discover that he is in love with her. J. Hartley Manners created the role specifically for Taylor, his wife.

1924 The Student Prince opens at the Jolson Theater in New York. The show, based on the play old Heidelberg, has a book and lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly with a score of Sigmund Romberg. The tunes include the “Drinking Song”. In the story, a prince falls in love with a waitress. It features Howard Marais and Ilse Marvenga.

1925 Julie Harris was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She gains fame and respect for her performances in The wedding member and The Beauty of Amherst, among other plays.

1943 Oscar Hammerstein II transports Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen from southern Spain to the southern United States, and gave it the new title carmen jones. An all-black cast performs Bizet’s music with Hammerstein’s new book and lyrics. Muriel Rahn and Muriel Smith share the demanding title role, each taking four performances a week. The show ran for 503 performances at the Broadway Theater and was later made into a film starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte.

1979 Martin Shermanthe play about homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps, Curveopens at the New Apollo Theater. Richard Gere stars as a gay man who is also Jewish. Other cast members include David MarshallGrant and David Dukes. The show has 241 performances.

1985 The Edwin Drood Mysteryadapted from Charles Dickens novel of Rupert Holmes, opens on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. The show aired for free in Central Park the previous summer. Dickens never finished his novel, and because of that, the onus of choosing an ending falls on the audience each night. The cast includes Betty Buckley, George Rose, Donna Murphyand George N. Martin.

1999 audra mcdonald receives her fourth Tony Award nomination – and first for Leading Actress in a Musical – for the Lincoln Center Theater production of Marie-Christine, opening today at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The musical was written especially for McDonald’s by Michael John La Chiusa. An ambitious musical adaptation of the Greek tragedy, Medea, Marie-Christine runs on Broadway for only 42 performances and receives five Tony Award nominations.

2004 Amon Miyamoto becomes the first Japanese director to stage a major musical on Broadway with the opening of Roundabout Theater Companythe rebirth of Pacific Openings at Studio 54, featuring BD Wong and two members of the original 1976 production, Sab Shimono and Alvin YF Eng.

2011 The New York premiere of David Adjmi’s funny and wild portrait of civilized life, Elective Affinities, opens Off-Broadway. Featuring Zoe Caldwell as witty octogenarian Alice Hauptmann, the site-specific production is performed at a townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where an audience of 30 are served tea and sandwiches before being invited to join Caldwell in an intimate salon for the play.

2012 Patti LuPone and Debra Winger debate faith, politics, persecution and redemption in the world premiere of David Mametit’s the anarchist, opening at the John Golden Theatre. The 70-minute work features LuPone as an inmate serving a life sentence and Winger as the woman who must determine if she is suitable for parole, and it ends after 17 performances.

2015 Sheridan Smith stars in a sold-out revival of funny girl at the Menier chocolate factory in London. Michael Mayer is directing, with Harvey Fierstein writing a revised new book. It is the first major London production of the musical since its original West End run in 1966 with Barbra Streisand. The production then moved to the Savoy Theater in the West End.

More birthdays from today: Adolf Green (1914-2002). Ray Walston (1914-2001). Ezra’s Stone (1917-1994). jonathan frid (1924-2012). Ron Raines (born in 1949). Wilson Jermaine Heredia (born in 1971).

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Stephanie J. Block, Chita Rivera and Will Chase Star in Broadway’s The Edwin Drood Mystery


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