Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: November 2

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1903 Daniel Frohman opens the New Lyceum Theater on West 45th Street in Manhattan with EH Sothern in The proud prince. Designed by Herts & Tallant, the theater was later renamed simply the Lyceum. It is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theater in New York City.

1915 Opening night at the Princess Theater for Harold Brighousepopular comedy Hobson’s Choice, about a man who forbids his daughters to marry so as not to have to pay dowries. It has over 100 performances and is filmed at least three times.

1921 Eugene O’Neillit is Anna Christie, featuring Pauline Lord and George Marion, opens at the Vanderbilt Theatre. Critics check their praise for the show with reservations about the play’s “happy ending”, suggesting that O’Neill is making concessions to commercial theater. O’Neill considers the series “a failure”, but it earns the author his second Pulitzer Prize.

1937 George M. Cohan stars in the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical I would be quite right, which opens at the Alvin Theater. Cohan plays a man he hates, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The book, written by Hart and George S. Kaufman, follows Roosevelt’s attempts to balance the budget in order to finance the wedding of a young couple. The show runs for nine months, the first of those having Cohan in a leg cast.

1949 Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary by starring in SN Behrman’s comedy, I know my love, which opens at the Shubert Theater. Curiously, the show focuses on a couple looking back on 50 years of marriage. The Lunts also appear on the cover of Life the following week in honor of the event.

1961 alfred drake stars as lead actor Edmond Kean in the Robert Wright and george forest musical Kean, which opens at the Broadway Theatre.

1971 Barbara Cook made his final musical book appearance on Broadway in the Truman Capote tuner The grass harp, also comprising Karen Morrow, Max Showalter, and Russ Thacker. It takes place at the Martin Beck Theatre, with a cast album from the Claire Richardson/Kenward Elmslie score bringing it to minor cult status.

1980 by Hugh Leonard A life opened at the Morosco Theater and won four Tony nominations: Best Play, Best Director for Peter Coe, Best Actor in a Play for Roy Dotrice and Best Featured Actor in a Play for Adam Redfield.

1989 A splashy stage adaptation of the musical Meet me in St. Louis opens at the Gershwin Theater on Broadway with betty garrett, Georges Hearn, and Donna Kane (in the role created in the cinema by Judy Garland).

1995 Ellen Burstyn and Giancarlo Esposito star in Sacrilege by Diane Shaffer at the Belasco Theatre. Don Scardino conducts.

2000 by Charles Busch The story of the allergist’s wife opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theater in a production directed by Lynne Meadow, starring Linda Lavin and Michele Lee. The pair earn nods from Tony for their performances, as does the play itself.

2003 A revival of Cat on a hot tin roof opens with Ashley Judd, Jason Patric, Margo Martindale and Ned Beatty. Tennessee Williams’ play is directed by Anthony Page at the Music Box Theatre.

2006 The strange and sad story of “Little” Edie and Edith Bouvier Beale, cat ladies of the Hamptons, makes an unlikely hit musical, gray gardens, which moved to the Walter Kerr Theater after a sold-out Off-Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons. Written by Scott Frankel, Michel Korie, and Doug Wright, and based on the cult classic documentary, the production wins Tony Awards for stars Christine Ebersol and Marie-Louise Wilson.

2016 Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth opens up My Broadway Love Letter, a two-week concert stand at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on Broadway. The set list includes both musical theater favorites and American Songbook classics.

2017 Inspired by the real link kings of the time, Ayad Akhtar Junk opens Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont in a production directed by Dough Hughes. Set in the high-flying, risk-seeking financial world of the 1980s, the play stars Steven Pasquale as Robert Merkin.

More birthdays from today: Brian Hooker (1880–1946), Philip Merivale (1886–1946), Alice King (1892–1939), Denis King (1897-1971), Paul Ford (1901-1976), Peggy Conklin (1906–2003), Burt Lancaster (1913–1994), Dale Wasserman (1914–2008), Sidney Luft (1915–2005), Martin Aronstein (1936–2002), Gary Yershon (b. 1954), Lynn Nottage (b. .1964), David Schwimmer (born in 1966), Phillip Boykin (born in 1968).

Watch Kristin Chenoweth preview songs from My Broadway Love Letter during a public rehearsal:


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