1903 Victor Herbert‘s Babes in Toyland opens on Broadway, introducing the songs “I Can’t Do the Sum,” “Go To Sleep,” “Toyland,” and “The March of the Wooden Soldiers.” The last title is adopted as the title of a 1930s film version, starring Laurel and Hardy.
1955 George Axelrod‘s comedy of social climbing in the business world, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? opens on Broadway with a cast that features Walter Matthau, Orson Bean, Jayne Mansfield, and Tina Louise. It runs 444 performances.
1958 Anne Bancroft, star of stage and screen, actually auditioned for the Actor’s Studio last week. According to Leonard Lyon’s column, which was published today, “star or no star, she still had to audition. She passed.” Bancroft is remembered for her portrayal both on stage (1960) and in film (1962) of teacher Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker. She wins both a Tony Award and an Academy Award for the role.
1962 Edward Albee‘s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opens at the Billy Rose Theatre (now the Nederlander). Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, Melinda Dillon, and George Grizzard are the cast who perform the three-and-half hour long show six times a week. The show is so challenging and long, a separate cast does matinee performances. Woolf, about two couples who bare their personal secrets, runs 664 performances in New York before heading to London with Hagen and Hill in tow, where it runs 428 performances.
1964 Peter Brook‘s production of The Physicists, by Friedrich Duerrenmatt, opens at the Martin Beck Theatre. The drama, about a group of scientists who hide out in an insane asylum, stars the husband and wife team Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. The show runs 55 performances.
1987 Terrence McNally gets a shining moment at Manhattan Theatre Club as his Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune opens. The story involves a middle-aged cook and waitress who sleep together one night and find themselves dealing with whether or not they should be involved. Kathy Bates stars with Kenneth Welsh in the production, which runs for 533 performance. The play is turned into a movie in 1991 starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, and finally arrives on Broadway in 2002 starring Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci.
1998 The rarely-produced William Shakespeare play Pericles sees a production at Off-Broadway’s The Public Theater. The mounting is directed by Brian Kulick and stars Viola Davis and Jay Goede. The Public also produced the last major New York production of the play in 1991, with Michael Greif directing Campbell Scott in the title role.
1999 Screen star Ally Sheedy takes over the title role in the Off-Broadway rock musical about a sex-change operation gone wrong, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Sheedy’s portrayal of Hedwig is the first and last time a woman plays the title role in the production. Sheedy remains with the show for only a few stormy weeks, until Matt McGrath assumes the role on January 6.
2005 British playwright Harold Pinter wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.
2007 The musical Legally Blonde premieres on MTV. It had been filmed live at the Palace Theatre, in its entirety, at the September 18 performance.
2010 America’s angst-ridden adolescence rocks out on Broadway as Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman‘s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson opens at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. Benjamin Walker stars as the seventh President of the United States, portrayed as a rebellious rock star leading a nation through its troubled teens. The 90-minute musical is equal parts sketch comedy, underground rock concert, and revisionist history lesson.
2011 Katori Hall‘s Olivier Award-winning drama The Mountaintop, starring Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson, opens on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. Set in a Memphis motel room on April 3, 1968, the play re-imagines the events leading up to the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
2012 George and Martha return to Broadway in a new production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, opening 50 years to the day of its 1962 Broadway premiere. This time around, Tracy Letts and Amy Morton play the college-town husband and wife, in the staging first seen in late 2010 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company‘s home in Chicago. The production earns three 2013 Tony Awards: Best Actor in a Play (Letts), Best Direction of a Play (Pam MacKinnon), and Best Revival of a Play.
2016 Following a sold-out, world-premiere run Off-Broadway, Simon Stephens’ Heisenberg opens on Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker reprise their roles as two strangers who embark on a life-changing journey.
Today’s Birthdays: Lily Langtry (1853-1929). Cornel Wilde (1915-1989). Albert Hague (1920-2001). Frank D. Gilroy (1925-2015). Lenny Bruce (1925-1966). Cliff Gorman (1936-2002). Anita Alvarez (b. 1920). Melinda Dillon (b. 1939). Paul Simon (b. 1941). George Lee Andrews (b. 1942). Karen Akers (b. 1945). John Patrick Shanley (b. 1950).
Watch highlights from the 2010 Broadway production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson: