Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: November 5


1895 Birthday of Charles MacArthur, journalist-turned-playwright, whose insightful work includes The first page, 20th century (the play on which the musical In the 20th century is based), Johnny on a Spot, Lulu Belle, Ladies and Gentlemenand the libretto of the musical by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart Giant. He was also married to Helen Hayes.

1918 Miss 1917 opens at the Century Theater with comedian Lew Fields performance of a score by Victor Herbert, Guy Boltonand PG Wodehouse. It offers 48 performances.

1931 Raymond Massy stars like Hamlet for 28 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

1941 Summoned by a medium, the spirit of a woman returns in ghost form to flirt with her still-living husband and torment his new bride in Cowardly Christmassparkling comedy, joyful spiritwhich opens at the Morosco Theater and lights up Broadway in wartime for 650 performances.

1943 playwright’s birthday Sam Shepardone of the cornerstones of the Off-Off-Broadway movement in the 1960s, with pieces like The invisible hand and The Tooth of Crimewhich becomes a bit more mainstream with works like true westall for loveand Pulitzer winner buried child. He also contributes a skit to the long-running review Oh! Calcutta!

1951 Ginger Rogers appears on the cover of Life, “Back On Broadway” in To love and let love. However, the show, plagued by feuds during its trial run, only played 51 performances, losing an estimated $30,000.

1952 Margaret Sullavan stars in Terrence Rattiganit’s playing The big Bluewhich opens at the Morosco Theater and remains for 132 performances.

1959 Paddy Chayefskysupernatural thriller The tenth manopens at the Booth Theater, beginning a run of 623 performances.

1963 Birthday of Andrea McArdlewho creates the title role in the musical Anneand continues to play roles in musicals, including Starlight Express, state fairand The beauty and the Beast.

1973 Stone Room succeeds Laurence Olivier as Director of the English National Theatre, leading the company through many successful years and a Queen-appointed change of name in Royal National Theatre.

1980 Christopher Reeve, Swoosie Kurtzand Amy Wright are the stars in fifth of july by Lanford Wilson, which opens at the New Apollo Theatre. The show was an Off-Broadway hit as a Circle Rep production in 1978, and repeated its success on Broadway, running for 511 performances and winning Kurtz a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle Award.

1987 Stephen Sondheim and the elaborate interweaving of several James Lapine fairy tales, In the woods, opens on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre. The fan-favorite score includes “No One Is Alone” and “Children Will Listen”, along with the title track. Rabbitwho also wrote the book, leads a cast that includes Joanna GleasonChip Zien and Bernadette Peters. It has 765 performances.

1995 Master class, Terrence McNally’s play about opera diva Maria Callas, opens on Broadway at the Golden Theatre. Zoe Caldwell stars as Callas, with Audra McDonald playing one of her students. He then won Tony Awards for Caldwell, McDonald’s and Best Play. Dixie Carter and Patti LuPone take on the role of Callas later in the 598 performance series.

2003 The Landmark Conservancy nominates an actor Elaine Stritch and composer duo John Kander and Fred Eb “Living landmarks.”

2012 The New York premiere of Samuel D. Hunter The whalea harrowing character study about the roots of dysfunction in the life of a 600-pound man with morbid obesity, opens Off-Broadway at Playwrights’ horizons‘ Peter Jay Sharp Theatre. Shuler Hensley stars as Charlie, the mentally vibrant but emotionally (and mostly couch-bound) lost soul.

2015 On your feet!, the musical based on the life of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, opens on Broadway at the Marquis Theater, where it has 746 performances. Ana Villafañe and Josh Segarra star as Gloria and Emilio.

2018 Christopher Demos-Brown’s American son opens at the Booth Theater on Broadway. Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan and Eugene Lee star in the drama, about an estranged interracial couple reuniting at a police station and grappling with the disappearance of their teenage son. Director Kenny Leon also later helms a version filmed for Netflix, with the four reprising their performances.

More birthdays from today: Nathalie Schafer (1900–1991). Vivien Leigh (1913-1967). Donald Madden (1928-1983). Harris Yulin (born in 1937). Howard McGillin (born in 1953). Sam Rockwell (born in 1968). Keala Settle (born in 1975). Sebastien Arcelus (born in 1976).


ARCHIVE PHOTOS: Zoe Caldwell, Patti LuPone, Dixie Carter, Faye Dunaway and Tyne Daly in Terrence McNally’s Master Class

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