Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: November 12


1874 Birthday of pioneering African-American singer-songwriter Bert Williams, who wrote music for Broadway In Dahomey (1903) and Abyssinia (1906), but achieved even greater fame as a singer and dancer in five editions of the The follies of Ziegfeld between 1910 and 1920.

1918 David Belasco produces and directs Tiger! Tiger!, by Edward Knoblock. The play, with a cast that includes Wallace Erskine, Dorothee Cummingand Lionel Atwillorganizes 183 performances.

1922 Actor’s birthday Kim Hunterbest known for originating the role of Stella in the original Broadway production of A tram called Désir.

1941 Guy Bolton and W. Somerset Maugham see the opening of their play under the generic title Theaterwhich features Cornelia Otis Skinner and the ubiquitous Georges Spevin (a name used in the program when the actor’s real name needs to be kept secret for some reason). It remains at the Hudson Theater for 69 performances.

1951 Alan Jay Lerner and Frederic Loewe ask everyone Paint your wagon. The show, based on Bret Harteit’s Rough and Ready Millionaire, painted the city for nine months. Holding the brushes are James Barton and Olga San Juanwith choreography by Agnes de Mille.

1957 Birthday of a Broadway Dancer Karen Ziembaa favorite of the choreographer Susan Stroman and songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebwhich appears in The world is spinning, contact, never gonna dance, Drapesand Bullets on Broadwayand starred in the 1997 musical steel pier.

1967 Pearl Bailey and Calloway Cabin lead an all-black cast in the opening of a revamped version of Hello Dolly! at St. James’s Theatre. After the curtain call, Carol Channing, who is in the audience, is invited on stage by Pearl Bailey to sing the title track. The show has been running since January 1964 and totals 2,844 performances.

1970 Broadway opening night for Detectiveone of the most successful stage murder mysteries. Keith Baxter and Anthony Quayle star in the story of a mysterious writer who plots to mess with, then kill, his wife’s lover. It staged 1,222 performances at the Music Box Theatre.

1989 Tommy Tune directs and choreographs big hotel which opens at the Martin Beck Theatre, based on the play and film from the early thirties. The score is Robert Wright, george forestand Maury Yeston, but the emphasis is on staging and spectacle. The show has 1,017 performances.

1998 Martin Short and Faith Prince star in the Roundabout Theater Company‘s revival of Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh and Neil Simon’s musical adaptation of Patrick Dennis’ novel, a satirical pseudo-autobiography of Belle Chest and her journey from the poverty to wealth and poverty, and vice versa.

2001 The new Kodak Theater in Los Angeles debuts with the Ovation Awards, Los Angeles theater honors. The building at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue is designed by a set designer and architect David Rockwell.

2012 Christophe Durangthe comedy inspired by Chekhov, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spikewhich immerses characters from the Russian playwright’s catalog in a frothy weekend of costumes, prophecy and existential desire, opens Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theaterof the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. The characteristics of the cast Sigourney Weaver, Kristine Nielsen, David Hyde Pierce, Genevieve Angelson, Shalita Grantand Billy Magnussen. The production moved to Broadway in 2013, where it won the Tony Award for Best Play.

2015 Arthur Miller’s Young Vic Production A view from the bridge, directed by acclaimed Belgian director Ivo van Hove, opens on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre. The cast includes Mark Strong, Nicola Walker, Phoebe Fox and Russell Tovey. The production won Tony Awards for best direction of a play and best revival of a play.

More birthdays from today: Richard A. Merlan (1891-1938). Grace Kelly (1929-1982). Marie-Louise Wilson (born in 1931). Jules Fisher (born in 1937). Wallace Shawn (born in 1943). Lynn Meadow (born in 1946). Karen Ziemba (born in 1957). Megan Mullally (born in 1958). Manoel Felciano (born in 1970). Alistair Brammer (born in 1988).


Throwback to Pearl Bailey in Hello, Dolly! on broadway

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