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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: December 26

1904 Maude Adams returns to Broadway with a revival of J.M. Barrie‘s The Little Minister. It runs just 73 performances. A year later she returns with a better Barrie play, the original Peter Pan.

1921 Opening night for the original production of Bulldog Drummond, starring A. E. Matthews as the relentless sleuth.

1925 Walter Hampden and Ethel Barrymore are Shylock and Portia in The Merchant of Venice at Hampden’s Theatre in New York. The production is part of a limited season for Hampden and Barrymore, which also includes the pair as Hamlet and Ophelia in Hamlet.

1926 With pressure from both New York Governor Alfred E. Smith and Mayor James Walker regarding a reformation by theatre owners of the moral quality of certain productions, a committee is formed to view “morally questionable” shows. Made up of actors, authors, and producers, the committee surveys current shows and comes up with the NY District Attorney’s list of such titles. The first three to be raided are Sex, The Virgin Man, and The Captive.

1931 George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind create Wintergreen, the presidential candidate running on a platform of love. Of Thee I Sing, the Pulitzer Prize–winning musical with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin, stars William Gaxton, Grace Brinkley, and Victor Moore. The campaign runs for 441 performances, first at the Music Box Theatre and then at the 46th Street Theatre.

1935 Helen Hayes is Victoria Regina at the Broadhurst Theatre. Laurence Houseman’s history of the Queen runs for 515 performances.

1960 Phil Silvers stars as a guy whose latest get-rich-quick scheme involves jukeboxes in the musical Do Re Mi from Jule Styne, Garson Kanin, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green. Nancy Walker plays Silvers’ long-suffering wife, who stops the show with the song “Adventure.” It runs 400 performances and introduces the standard “Make Someone Happy.”

1962 Writer S. J. Perelman and comedian Bert Lahr may sound like a unbeatable combination, but their collaboration The Beauty Part runs just 85 performances at the Music Box.

1999 Broadway’s long-running The Phantom of the Opera celebrates an impressive 5,000 performances.

2016 Actor George S. Irving, a Tony winner in 1973 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical in Irene opposite Debbie Reynolds, dies at age 94. With 32 Broadway credits, Irving performed in such classics as Oklahoma!, Gentleman Prefer Blondes, Can-Can, Bells Are Ringing, the 1981 revival of The Pirates of Penzance, and Me and My Girl, for which he earned a Tony nomination.

Today’s Birthdays: Dion Boucicault 1822. Richard Widmark 1914. Donald Moffat 1930. Mabel King 1932.

Watch a cast led by Bryce Pinkham and Denée Benton rehearse for a 2017 concert staging of Of Thee I Sing:

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