Today in Theatre History: DECEMBER 3
By Robert Viagas
December 3, 2009
1888 One of Frances Hodgeson Burnett’s greatest successes opens today: Little Lord Fauntleroy starry Tommy Russell. The story of a American boy who discovers he’s the heir to a British fortune and is sent to live with a cold-hearted caretaker. It will be frequently revived, toured and filmed over the next century.
1947 A Streetcar Named Desire makes its historic stop at the Barrymore Theatre. Tennessee Williams‘ play stars Jessica Tandy, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden in what will be an 855-performance ride. It will go on to win the Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
1949 Philip Barry dies at age 53. Barry’s wit was on view in works such as Holiday and The Philadelphia Story. An unfinished comedy Second Threshold, was completed by Robert Sherwood.
1960 Richard Burton’s reign as King Arthur of Camelot begins tonight. This Lerner and Loewe musical was adapted from T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King.” Citizens of this enchanted land include Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet and Roddy McDowall.
1964 Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy opens at the Washington Square Theatre. The story involves a group of prisoners detained by Nazis in Vichy, awaiting deportation to concentration camps. The cast includes Hal Holbrook, David Wayne and Paul Mann.
1973 Bette Midler stars in her own one-woman show, which opens tonight at the Palace Theatre. Since the show was styled and reviewed as a concert rather than a Broadway show, it is classified as one by the Tony Awards committee. They bestow a special award to Midler for “superior concert entertainment on the Broadway stage.”
1997 With the resumption of performances of the 1776 revival at the Gershwin Theatre today, Broadway sets a modern record by having 23 musicals playing simultaneously. Such a large number of musicals running at once had not occurred since at least the 1960s and possibly as far back as the 1920s.
2001 New York’s landmark Drama Book Shop reopens in a roomier new location at 250 W. 40th Street, after a generation on Seventh Avenue and 48th Street.
2002 The Sound of Music film stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer star in a national tour of the holiday-themed A Royal Christmas.
2003 Jefferson Mays plays some 40 characters in Doug Wright’s solo drama, I Am My Own Wife, about a real-life German transvestite, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who survives both the Nazis and the Communists. It transfers to Broadway today from Off-Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons and will go on to win the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play.
2003 Also today, Mary Tyler Moore withdraws from the Off-Broadway debut production of Neil Simon’s latest play, Rose’s Dilemma, after Simon writes a note critical of her performance. She leaves the theatre moments before the matinee performance.
2004 Mark Arvin, 40, a Broadway and ballet dancer who appeared in such musicals as Movin’ Out, Sweet Smell of Success, Fosse and Swing! dies in Dallas, following a year in a coma following complications from a heart procedure.
2008 Liza Minnelli returns to Broadway for the first time in nearly a decade in her concert show Liza’s At The Palace”¦!, paying tribute to her godmother, vocal arranger and performer Kay Thompson.