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MUSICAL THEATRE ARCHIVES

Here is some musical theatre trivia about events that happened during THIS month in the past:
August 13, 1895    Bert Lahr, the great comic remembered mostly for his portrayal of the Cowardly Lion in the film The Wizard of Oz, was born. Lahr made a dozen other movie musicals and spent nearly 40 years on Broadway.

August 23, 1912    Dancer, actor, singer, choreographer, and director Gene Kelly was born today. He started out on Broadway in 1941 in Rodgers & Hart’s Pal Joey.

August 31, 1918    Alan Jay Lerner, lyricist and bookwriter of many classic musicals, including My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, Camelot, Gigi, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Paint Your Wagon, was born.

August 3, 1919    Maria Karnilova, who memorably appeared as Tessie Tura in Gypsy, Madame Hortense in Zorba, Inez Alvarez in Gigi, and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof (for which she won the Tony Award), was born. She made her Broadway debut in 1946 in Call Me Mister.

August 12, 1919    Michael Kidd, the innovative choreographer and sometime director was born today. His Broadway credits included Finian’s Rainbow, Love Life, and Can-Can; his film work included Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The Bandwagon; and he worked on Guys and Dolls both on stage and screen.

August 22, 1932    Theoni V. Aldredge, one of the busiest costume designers in musical theatre history, with more than 100 Broadway shows and 3 Tony Awards to her credit, was born today.

August 19, 1938    The movie Alexander’s Ragtime Band opened across America, giving Ethel Merman one of her best film vehicles and the chance to belt Irving Berlin’s “Heat Wave” and “Blue Skies”.

August 5, 1957    Faith Prince, Tony Award-winner for her performance as Miss Adelaide in the Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls, was born today.

August 29, 1964    The film Mary Poppins opened across America, and children of all ages fell in love with Julie Andrews, the ultimate nanny who could dance, fly, and clean up a messy house in no time flat.

August 8, 1975    Liza Minnelli took over the role of Roxie Hart in the original production of Chicago, having had just six days to learn the role following Gwen Verdon’s hospitalization.

August 14, 1975    The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the cult classic to end all cult classics, premiered today in London.

August 27, 1977    The original production of Chicago closed today after 936 performances. Despite some legendary performances by Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, and Jerry Orbach, the show faded into semi-obscurity until Walter Bobbie and Ann Reinking resurrected it in a concert production in 1995.

August 25, 1980    The stage version of 42nd Street opened on Broadway. Gower Champion, the show’s director/choreographer, died just prior to the opening curtain.

August 21, 1983    La Cage aux Folles, with a score by Jerry Herman and book by Harvey Fierstein, opened on Broadway and ran for more than four years. The original production of La Cage won 6 Tony Awards.

August 16, 2000    A big day for musical diva birthdays! Ann Blyth (Kismet), Eydie Gorme (Golden Rainbow), Julie Newmar (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), Anita Gillette (Carnival!), Carole Shelley (Wicked), Dee Hoty (Footloose), Kathie Lee Gifford (Saving Aimee), and Madonna (Dick Tracy), all were born.

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