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Stephen (Joshua) Sondheim was born on this day, in New York City, to Etta Janet (nee Fox) and Herbert Sondheim.
The Gershwins’ Girl Crazy opened on Broadway, making a star of Ethel Merman, who stopped the show cold with “I Got Rhythm”.
Of Thee I Sing, a depression-era musical satire of American politics, opened on Broadway to rave reviews and terrific box office numbers. Penned by Moss Hart and George and Ira Gershwin, it became the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
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.
Bela Lugosi, famous for his 1931 film portrayal of Dracula, made his Broadway musical debut in Murder at the Vanities.
Dorothy Loudon, who received her first of 3 Tony Award nominations for her breakout role in 1969’s flop The Fig Leaves are Falling – despite its having run only four performances – was born today. The biggest triumphs of Loudon’s long career were her boozy, frowzy Miss Hannigan in Annie (Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical) and the widow Bea in Michael Bennett’s Ballroom.
Jerry Orbach, star of the original productions of The Fantasticks, Carnival!, Promises, Promises, Chicago, and 42nd Street – as well as revivals of Guys and Dolls and Annie Get Your Gun – was born today.
Shall We Dance premiered today, pairing America’s favorite dance team for the seventh time. Fred Astaire introduced the classic ‘They Can’t Take That Away from Me,’ which was nominated for an Oscar, while Fred and Ginger danced and sang on roller skates to ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.’
The Cradle Will Rock did not open on Broadway today. Instead, it was shut down by the WPA’s Federal Theatre Project for reasons that may have been economic or, as Tim Robbins’s film of the same name suggests, motivated by issues of censorship.
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”.
Lady in the Dark – with music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and book and direction by Moss Hart – opened on Broadway today with Gertrude Lawrence starring and Danny Kaye nearly upstaging her with the tongue-twisting showstopper “Tchaikowsky”.
The theater community gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria to pay homage to the recently deceased Antoinette Perry. The American Theatre Wing presented awards for achievement in the previous season. In recognition of Perry, they would come to be known as the Tony Awards. First year’s recipients included David Wayne and Michael Kidd for Finian’s Rainbow, Agnes de Mille for Brigadoon, and Kurt Weill for Street Scene.
Ann-Margaret was born today. She made her musical debut playing a R&H ingenue in the 1962 remake of State Fair. She also sexed it up in musicals like Viva Las Vegas and Bye Bye Birdie.
Twyla Tharp was born today
Rodgers, Hammerstein and de Mille all but gave birth to what we now know as a ‘musical.’ Oklahoma! opened today.
Bette Midler, the recording and film star who began her career playing Tzeitel in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, was born today
Perennial song-and-dance man Andre De Shields, who got his first big break with the title role in the original production of The Wiz, was born today. He went on to star in Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stardust, Play On!, The Full Monty, and most recently has regularly appeared in Classical Theatre of Harlem productions in New York City.
Liza Minnelli was born today. Liza made her first on-screen appearance at age one in her parent’s film In the Good Old Summertime.
Annie Get Your Gun opened on Broadway today, and it became the biggest hit for composer Irving Berlin, running for nearly three years.
Eartha Kitt made her Broadway debut in 1946 in the revue Bal Negre.
Stephen Schwartz was born today. He first hit the scene contributing lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s Mass in 1971. That same year, Godspell opened off-Broadway.
Pop rock musicals would never have been the same or maybe they would never have been at all. Andrew Lloyd Webber was born today.
Nell Carter, Tony Award and Emmy winner for Ain’t Misbehavin’, was born today. Later a television star, Carter’s also appeared in the 1979 film version of Hair and returned to Broadway two decades later to play Miss Hannigan in a revival of Annie.
Some Enchanted Evening…South Pacific opened on Broadway today.
Alan Menken was born. Composer of Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, and The Little Mermaid.
Anne Reinking, muse of Bob Fosse, star of Over Here!, Dancin’, and Chicago (see below), was born today.
Rodgers and Hammerstein solidified their position as the premiere writers of musicals with the Broadway opening of The King and I.
Singin’ in the Rain opened across America today
Christine Ebersole was born today. Ebersole’s first Broadway role was in Oklahoma! as Ado Annie in 1979.
The Threepenny Opera opened at the Theater de Lys off-Broadway today. It was the first major American production of the jazz and opera-infused musicals by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.
The movie Carousel premiered today, reuniting stars Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae. Richard Rodgers claimed that the score was his favorite of all his works.
Audrey Hepburn starred in Funny Face, which opened today
Faith Prince, Tony Award-winner for her performance as Miss Adelaide in the Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls, was born today.
The show created by one of the all-time starriest creative teams – Arthur Laurents (book), Leonard Bernstein (music), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics), Jerome Robbins (director/choreographer), and Harold Prince (producer) – West Side Story, opened on Broadway.
Gypsy opened on Broadway
Bye, Bye Birdie, perhaps the first stage musical to acknowledge the ‘rock and roll’ sound permeating American music, opened on Broadway today.
Film version of The Music Man premieres.
Hello, Dolly! opened on Broadway today to become one of the biggest smash hits of all time.
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.
Fiddler on the Roof, arguably the last show of the golden era of musical theatre, opened. The original cast featured Maria Karnilova, Bea Arthur, Bert Convy, Austin Pendleton, Joanna Merlin, Julia Migenes, and, of course, Zero Mostel, who won his third Tony in five years for playing Tevye.
Man of La Mancha began its original 6-year Broadway run today.
Mame opened on Broadway today starring Angela Lansbury, Bea Arthur, Jane Connell, and Frankie Michaels.
Hair opened at The Public Theatre for a brief Off-Broadway run of 50 performances, prior to a Broadway transfer a few months later.
The film version of Funny Girl, which cemented Barbra Streisand’s status as legend of Broadway, nightclubs, recordings, television, and film, premiered today in New York City.
Zorba, by Kander and Ebb, which reunited Fiddler on the Roof vets Herschel Bernardi and Maria Karnilova, opened on Broadway today.
Judy Garland died of an accidental overdose of barbiturates today. Her death is considered to be a key contributing factor in sparking the Stonewall Riots, which began the gay rights movement.
Company opened on Broadway today.
Idina Menzel began defying gravity today.
The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar opened in New York, marking Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway debut.
Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin opened on Broadway, directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse.
Savion Glover, the youngest person to win Best Choreographer Tony Award for his work on Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk, was born today. Glover also appeared in The Tap Dance Kid, Jelly’s Last Jam, and the film Tap.
The Wiz opened on Broadway today, starring Stephanie Mills, Andre de Shields, and Hinton Battle (and, making her Broadway debut as a munchkin, Phylicia Rashad). The show ran for more than four years.
Goodtime Charley opened today. Playing opposite Joel Grey was Ann Reinking. The 104-performance flop lost $1.1 million.
A Chorus Line opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre with no stars, no set, no conventional storyline. It became one of the most beloved musicals of all time.
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.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the cult classic to end all cult classics, premiered today in London.
Rockabye Hamlet opened on Broadway. Four days later, the show closed. The cast included Meat Loaf and Beverly D’Angelo (her sole Broadway endeavor to date)
Annie opened on Broadway today starring thirteen-year-old Andrea McArdle.
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.
Broadway has a whorehouse in it: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas opened today and ran for more than four years.
They’re Playing Our Song? opened on Broadway today starring Lucie Arnaz and Robert Klein. With a book by Neil Simon, the show became a hit, though none of the show’s pop tunes ever caught on outside the theater.
Attend the tale: Sweeney Todd opened on Broadway today.
The stage version of 42nd Street opened on Broadway. Gower Champion, the show’s director/choreographer, died just prior to the opening curtain.
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.
Stephen Sondheim bounced back after the debacle of Merrily We Roll Along (sixteen performances), Sunday in the Park with George opened on Broadway today.
A concert version of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s legendary musical Follies played two nights only at Lincoln Center. All 5,500 tickets sold out in less than three hours. The all-star cast included Barbara Cook, Lee Remick, Elaine Stritch, Carol Burnett, Mandy Patinkin, George Hearn, and Comden and Green, among others.
Michael Bennett died today at the age of forty-four. He left behind a legacy of two decades worth of Broadway choreography. After five Tony noms, he finally won for Best Choreography for Follies.
Director/choreographer Bob Fosse died of a heart attack, leaving behind an opus of work few of his contemporaries could even begin to compare with.
Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s adaptation of familiar folk tales, Into the Woods, opened today on Broadway.
The Phantom of the Opera opened in New York, only one of two productions to 7,089 performances on Broadway (the other is Cats, also by Andrew Lloyd Webber).
One of the most ill-fated musicals of all time opened: Carrie. Three days later, it closed.
Maltby & Shire’s Closer Than Ever, a revue compilation of some two dozen of their “trunk” songs from the past 30 years, opened Off-Broadway today.
Grand Hotel: The Musical, with a score by Maury Yeston, Robert Wright, and George Forrest and directed by Tommy Tune, opened on Broadway today.
City of Angels unexpectedly triumphed over Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love and Tommy Tune’s Grand Hotel: The Musical at the Tonys, winning Best Musical, Best Score, and Book.
Miss Saigon opened on Broadway today.
First it was a record album, then a movie, then, inevitably, a stage musical: The Who’s Tommy opened on Broadway today.
A revival of Carousel opened on Broadway. More important than the show itself was the Broadway debut of the actress playing Carrie Pipperidge: Audra Ann McDonald.
The musical Rent played its first preview performance Off-Broadway on this day, and, tragically, its creator, Jonathan Larson, died suddenly of an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm at the age of 35. The show transferred to Broadway and, as of its final performance this coming June, will have played 16 previews and 5,012 regular performances there.
Rent opened the door for a new era in contemporary musicals, which opened today.
Twenty years after it originally played on Broadway, Chicago opened in an incredibly successful revival production which preserved Bob Fosse’s style and vision for the original, but jettisoned the sets, the costumes, and any sense of period. Walter Bobbie (director) and Anne Reinking (choreographer; she also starred in the revival production, having also been a replacement for Gwen Verdon in the original production) won their first Tony for the show.
The musical version of Ragtime, with a score by Ahrens & Flaherty and book by Terrence McNally, opened on Broadway.
Contact won the Best Musical Tony Award today, despite having no singing or live music.
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.
Cats closed on Broadway, having run 7,845 performances. The show spent its last three years as the longest-running show in Broadway history, having eclipsed A Chorus Line for that honor on June 19, 1997.
Urinetown, that musical with the title least likely to succeed, opened on Broadway. The darkly comic show won Tony Awards for Best Direction, Best Score, and Best Book of a Musical.
Richard Rodgers was born today.
One Day More! Well, maybe not: Les Miserables closed today for the first run on Broadway.
Hairspray played its first preview in New York.
Acclaimed revival of Big River opened at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway. Produced by NAMT member Deaf West Theatre with The Roundabout Theatre Company in association with NAMT member Center Theatre Group, the revival combined hearing and deaf actors.
Just in time for Halloween, Wicked, the musical about two witches, landed on Broadway.
Ray Bolger, star of the original productions of On Your Toes, Life Begins at 8:40, By Jupiter, and Where’s Charley? (Tony Award), was born today. Bolger readily admitted that his main legacy was his performance as the Scarecrow in the film The Wizard of Oz.
Dorothy Fields was born. Lyricist who collaborated with Jimmy McHugh, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Bob Fosse, and Cy Coleman. Among her most famous songs: “The Way You Look Tonight”, “A Fine Romance”, and “Big Spender”. Also bookwriter for Annie Get Your Gun.
Choreographer Agnes de Mille, who changed the face of dance forever with her integrated work on Oklahoma!, Carousel, and her Tony-winning Brigadoon, was born today.
Broadway theatre going more-or-less returned to normal following a two-day New York City Transit Workers strike. It was the first such transit strike in New York in 25 years.
The Phantom of the Opera played its 7,486th performance today, becoming the longest-running show in Broadway history.
Ethel Merman, perhaps the icon of Broadway musicals, was born today.
Four-time Oscar winner and lyricist for L’il Abner, St. Louis Woman, and Top Banana, Johnny Mercer, was born today. Mercer teamed with some of Hollywood’s top composers, including Harold Arlen, Henry Mancini, Harry Warren, Jimmy McHugh, Jerome Kern, and Marvin Hamlisch, among others.
Kitty Carlisle Hart, who appeared in numerous vaudeville shows and Broadway musicals – as well as on film with The Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera – was born. Also well known for her 20 year leadership of the New York State Council on the Arts and as the wife of My Fair Lady and Camelot director Moss Hart. She died in April 2007 at the age of 97.
Prolific producer and Hollywood composer/musical director Cy Feuer, who won four Tony Awards, was born today. Among his musical hits: Where’s Charley?, Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Silk Stockings, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Dancer, actor, singer, choreographer, and director Gene Kelly was born today. He started out on Broadway in 1941 in Rodgers & Hart’s Pal Joey.
Ray Walston, who appeared in Me and Juliet and House of Flowers before originating the role of a lifetime as Applegate in Damn Yankees – and winning a Tony Award for it – was born today.
John Raitt, who made his Broadway debut at age 26 in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, was born today.
Rat-packer Dean Martin was born today.
Arthur Laurents was born. Bookwriter for West Side Story, Gypsy, Anyone Can Whistle, amongst others, and also director of such hits as La Cage aux Folles and revivals of Gypsy starring Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, and, currently running in NYC, Patti LuPone.
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.
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.
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.
Cyd Charisse was born today. She achieved stardom as Gene Kelley’s dance partner in Singin’ in the Rain. The other highlights of her relatively brief career included The Bandwagon, Brigadoon, It’s Always Fair Weather, and Silk Stockings. At 68, Charisse made her Broadway debut as Elizaveta Grushinskaya, the aging Russian ballerina in Grand Hotel.
After decades of white actors doing blackface, Shuffle Along, the first show written by African Americans, opened on Broadway in 1921.
Judy Holliday was born today.
Lauren Bacall, star of Applause and Woman of the Year who came to the musical stage after 25 years of movie stardom, was born today.
Gwen Verdon, winner of four Tony Awards including three for Best Leading Actress, was born today. As she approached middle age, her sometime husband Bob Fosse created two star vehicles for her: Sweet Charity and Chicago.
Angela Lansbury, musical star of Mame, Anyone Can Whistle, Gypsy, The King and I, Dear World, Sweeney Todd, and others, was born today.
Jane Connell, who created the role of Agnes Gooch in Mame in 1966, was born today. She reprised her role in the film version of Mame and again in the 1983 revival. In 1986 she was nominated for a Tony Award for Me and My Girl, and appeared again on Broadway in Crazy for You in 1992.
Rat-packer Sammy Davis, Jr., who starred on Broadway in Mr. Wonderful, a revival of Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, and Golden Boy (for which he received a Tony Award nomination, was born today. A dancer since the age of five, he also made movie musicals, including Sweet Charity and Porgy & Bess.
Marilyn Monroe was born today.
Edith ‘Edie’ Adams was born today. Adams won a Tony for Best Featured Actress as Daisy Mae in L’il Abner. Then, she played Julie Andrew’s Fairy Godmother in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s television version of Cinderella.
Bob Fosse was born today.
Barbara Cook, star of the original productions of Candide, The Music Man, and She Loves Me, was born today.
Shirley Temple was born today, and just six years later, she would single-handedly lift America right out of the Depression with her sunshiny personality and song-and-dance routines that leapt off the movie screens.
Jane Powell was born today. She was launched to fame in Royal Wedding playing Fred Astaire’s sister. Her most memorable role came from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

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