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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: October 31

1896 Birthday of Ethel Waters, Broadway star of musicals and plays including The Member of the Wedding, As Thousands Cheer, Cabin in the Sky, and Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds.

1949 Broadway premiere of Marc Blitzstein‘s opera Regina, based on Lillian Hellman‘s The Little Foxes. It runs 56 performances at the 46th Street Theatre.

1956 Rosalind Russell stars in the title role of Patrick DennisAuntie Mame, opening at the Broadhurst Theatre for a 639-performance run. The saga of a boy sent to live with his devil-may-care aunt later serves as the basis for the musical Mame.

1957 Ricardo Montalban and Lena Horne play sultry lovers in the musical Jamaica by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen. It runs 555 performances at the Imperial Theatre.

1957 Birthday of Brian Stokes Mitchell, Broadway’s top romantic leading man in musicals of the late 1990s onward. Starring roles include Ragtime; Kiss of the Spider Woman; Kiss Me, Kate; Jelly’s Last Jam; Man of La Mancha; Shuffle Along; and August Wilson‘s drama, King Hedley II. He is named one of the “Sexiest Men Alive” by People magazine.

1967 Although Eugene O’Neill never wanted his 1939 play, More Stately Mansions, to be produced, it opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre. The cast, which includes Colleen Dewhurst, Ingrid Bergman, and Arthur Hill, is directed by José Quintero. The show runs 142 performances. A controversial revival of the show is done in October 1997 at New York Theatre Workshop by Dutch director Ivo van Hove.

1971 The first Broadway revival of Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green‘s 1944 musical On the Town opens at the Imperial Theatre. The cast includes Donna McKechnie, Bernadette Peters, and Phyllis Newman. It runs only 73 performances.

1972 Simon Gray‘s play about a professor losing his wife, homosexual male lover, and sobriety, Butley, opens at the Morosco Theatre. Alan Bates wins a Tony Award for his starring role in the James Hammerstein-directed production, which runs 135 performances. A 2006 Broadway revival of the play stars Nathan Lane.

1982 An announcement is made by the League of New York Theatres and Producers that at least 14 shows produced on Broadway this season are financed by movie companies.

1988 John Houseman, star of theatre, radio, film, and television, dies at age 86. He was one of the founders of the Voice of America in World War II, and, with Orson Welles, the Mercury Theatre of the Air, best remembered for its 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast, a mock documentary about a Martian invasion which some listeners mistook for a real news broadcast. Houseman is also remembered for the Academy Award he won for playing Professor Kingsfield in the film The Paper Chase in 1973, a role he repeated in the TV series.

1991 Joseph Papp dies after a battle with cancer. A producer and activist, Papp started The Public Theater (now the Joseph Papp Public Theater), through which he nurtured unknowns such as David Mamet, Sam Shepard, Thomas Babe, David Hare, George C. Wolfe, Elizabeth Swados, Andrei Serban, Robert Alan Ackerman, Wallace Shawn, and Carson Kievman. Major productions include Hair and A Chorus Line. He was 70.

1991 Arthur Miller‘s The Ride Down Mount Morgan opens at London’s Wyndham Theatre. It is the first time a Miller play has debuted outside of the U.S. Tom Conti plays a man with two wives who, when convalescing after an auto accident, is forced to confront his selfishness and his choices. A production of the comedy-drama, starring Patrick Stewart and Frances Conroy, comes to Off-Broadway’s Public Theater in 1999 and then reaches Broadway’s Ambassador Theatre the following year.

2002 Carol Burnett makes her Broadway playwriting debut with her autobiographical Hollywood Arms, co-written with her daughter, Carrie Hamilton, who died during the show’s tryout. Michele Pawk wins a Tony Award playing the role based on Burnett’s mother, but the show runs just 76 performances at the Cort Theatre.

2010 The Scottsboro Boys, the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical that takes the racially insensitive “minstrel show” of yore and reimagines it to tell the true story of a case of racial injustice, opens at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre. Directed by Susan Stroman and with a libretto by David Thompson, the musical tells the tale of a group of young men who were falsely accused of raping two white women in Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1931. Despite running only 49 performances, the production is nominated for 12 Tony Awards.

2012 After three days of canceled performances due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, most Broadway shows resume. With New York’s public transportation system still largely crippled by the storm, some actors are reported to have walked for hours to reach their theatres.

2014 Hugh Jackman returns to Broadway in Jez Butterworth‘s The River, opening at Circle in the Square. Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo co-star in the mysterious drama about a man who brings his new girlfriend to a remote cabin for a night of trout-fishing.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Barbara Bel Geddes (1922-2005). Lee Grant (b. 1927). Ron Rifkin (b. 1939). David Ogden Stiers (1942-2018). Brian Stokes Mitchell (b. 1956).

Watch the Radio City Rockettes Rehearse for Return of Christmas Spectacular

Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes returns this holiday season, with performances at Radio City Music Hall November 5–January 2, 2022.

Watch the Rockettes rehearse in the above video, which also features chats with Rockettes Brittany Snyder, who is in her 11th year, and Giulia Griffth, who is making her debut, as well as director and choreographer Julie Branam.

Seen by more than 69 million people since it debuted in 1933, the annual production was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The cancellation marked the first time in 87 years the production was not seen during the holidays.

The 2021 production features more Rockettes numbers than ever before, with the Rockettes now performing in nine numbers throughout the 90-minute production.

Ken Fallin Draws the Stage – THE LEHMAN TRILOGY

BroadwayWorld has teamed up with renowned caricature artist Ken Fallin, a life-long theater enthusiast, who has drawn many Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. Below, check out his illustration of Adam Godley, Simon Russell Beale, andAdrian Lester in The Lehman Trilogy, now playing at the Nederlander Theatre.

Jay Armstrong Johnson’s Hocus Pocus-Inspired I Put a Spell on You Gets Spooky Online October 28

The annual Hocus Pocus-themed Halloween extravaganza I Put a Spell on You, created by and starring Jay Armstrong Johnson, once again haunts an online audience this year. Catch the concert-meets-party, dubbed The Sanderson Variant, streaming October 28 at 8 PM ET.

Johnson (On the Town, The Phantom of the Opera) dons the red wig of head witch Winifred (played on screen by Bette Midler), with Allison Robinson and Amanda Williams Ware joining him as sisters Sarah and Mary, respectively (Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy in the film).

This year, the beloved sisters attempt to spread their variant while recruiting some of pop culture’s most iconic villains to fulfill their delightfully devious plot.

Joining the witchy trio are Jonathan Burke (The Inheritance), Nick Rashad Burroughs (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical), Tony winner Gavin Creel (Hello, Dolly!), J. Harrison Ghee (Mrs. Doubtfire), Todrick Hall (Kinky Boots), Tony nominee Robyn Hurder (Moulin Rouge! ), Tony nominee Eva Noblezada (Hadestown), Heath Saunders (The Great Comet), Ahmad Simmons (West Side Story), and Tony nominee Will Swenson (Waitress).

Rounding out the cast are Jasha Benedicto, Jimmy Brewer, Brittany Bohn, Cemiyon, Hayden Clifton, Jai’Quin Coleman, Cara Diaz, Brian Duke, Tyler Eisenreich, Taurean Everett, Zachary Flores, Zuri Noelle Ford, Lilli Froehlich, Taylor Isaac Gray, Allison Griffith, Gabriel Hyman, Brittany Jenkins, Karma Jenkins, Erin Kei, Sarah Kleist, Kourtni Lind-Watson, Danny Marin, Emilio Ramos, Jennifer Reed , Austin Reynolds, Ana Riley-Portal, Kellie Rodriguez, Sydnie Roy, Alanna Saunders, Claire Saunders, Cassy Surianello, Michael Sylvester, and Kris Ward.

The digital film is directed by Johnson, Eamon Foley, Ahmad Simmons, and Catriona Rubenis-Stevens with choreography by Simmons, Johnson, Foley, and Kellen Stancil. Music direction is by Emily Marshall with music supervision and production by Will Van Dyke.

The stream also includes costume design and art direction by DW with additional costumes by Brian Hemesath, wigs and hair by Bobbie Cliffton Zlotnik and Daniel Koye, lighting design by Rocky Noel, makeup led by Alcone Company’s Kyle Krueger with Ruthie Weems and Christina Vida. Katie Rosin serves as line producer, and production coordination is by Emily Ballou. Set decoration is by Michael Lee Scott and Ty Hunter Taylor with props by Alec Addalia. Roberto Araujo, Ling Mai, Juan Roque, and David Spadora serve as directors of photography. Animation is by Nathan Love Productions. Dancer casting is by Jason Styres.

I Put a Spell on You: The Sanderson Variant is produced by Kampfire Films’ Katie Rosin, Con Limón Productions’ Danny Marin, DW, and Johnson. Sponsors include Times Square Alliance, Feinstein’s/54Below, The Mansion Inn, Open Jar Studios, La Palapa, Promobile, Groove with Me, and Our Wicked Lady.

For ticketing, visit BroadwayCares.org.

In the News: Billy Porter Presents His Memoir at Symphony Space, Comedian Alex Edelman’s Just For Us at Cherry Lane, More

Read on for more theatre headlines you may have missed in today’s news.

Emily Bookwalter and Shariffa Ali Join The New Group
The Off-Broadway theatre company, led by founding Artistic Director Scott Elliott and Executive Director Adam Bernstein, is welcoming two new staff members in two newly created positions: Emily Bookwalter as director of external affairs and Shariffa Ali as director of artistic projects. Bookwalter, who comes most recently from Roulette Intermedium, will work with development and marketing at The New Group with the goal of increasing its profile, brand awareness, and philanthropic support within the New York and national theatre communities. Ali will work directly with Elliott and Associate Artistic Director Ian Morgan on shaping and expanding The New Group’s artistic network and literary development activities. Ali has previously worked as an administrator at The New Group, as well as at The Public Theater. Other recent hires and staffing changes include Chris Kam as director of marketing, Rachel Spitz-Lieberman promoted to manager of institutional giving, Nick Bosanko as manager of ticketing and audience services, and Ruth Hollander as business manager.

Comedian Alex Edelman to Perform Solo Show Just For Us
Alex Edelman will make his New York stage debut in the U.S. premiere of his latest solo show Just For Us at the Cherry Lane Theatre. In the piece, Edelman tells the story of how he responded to anti-Semitic online abuse by covertly attending a gathering of white nationalists in New York City. Directed by Adam Brace and presented by Mike Birbiglia (The New One), the show is set to begin previews on December 1 with an official opening night on December 8.

Live and In Color Schedules Reading of New Musical Within Elsewhere
The BIPOC new works Incubator Live and In Color has announced plans to offer a live staged reading of Within Elsewhere, a new musical with a book by Joshua Betancourt and music and lyrics by Trent Jeffords. The story follows the journey of two siblings as they cope with the tragic loss of their youngest brother. Devanand Janki directs a cast that includes Juan Danner, Arjun Dhawan, Catherine Gloria, Gabriella Mancuso, Nick Martinez, Gabriela Cristina Rivera, Lily Talevski, and Sebastian Treviño. Performances will take place October 30 and 31 at 2:30 PM at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC.

Prospect Theater Company Fall Concerts
Prospect Theater Company will be at Symphony Space with fall concert events. Relaunching Prospect’s Ignite series of works-in-progress, the one-night-only Reignite concert on October 26 will feature new songs Isabella Dawis and Tidtaya Sinutoke (Half the Sky), Tia DeShazor and Derrick Byars (The Pact), Cheryl L. Davis and Douglas J. Cohen (Don’t Stay Safe), Mindi Dickstein and Carmel Dean (Maiden Voyage), David Gomez and John-Michael Lyles (Shoot for the Moon), Timothy Huang (Peter and the Wave), Joriah Kwamé (How To You), Christine Toy Johnson and Jason Ma (Broken Ground), Stacey Luftig and Phillip Palmer (Amelia and Me), Or Matias and Etai Benson (Once I Was), Janine McGuire and Arri Lawton Simon (Express), Eric Price and Will Reynolds (The Violet Hour), Jesse J. Sanchez (Sueños), Katya Stanislavskaya (The Poorhouse Project), and Paulo K Tiról (Called). On November 17, the company will present Rule of Three, an evening of new works generated in its annual Musical Theater Lab. For more information or ticketing, visit ProspectTheater.org.

Plus, Billy Porter, the Emmy-, Grammy-, Tony-winning performer turned author, will also be stopping by Symphony Space on November 3 to read from and discuss Unprotected, his new memoir about race, sexuality, and art. This event has been rescheduled from October 19. A handful of additional stage favorites appear in the venue’s upcoming roster; click here for more information.