Today in Playbill Vault Theater History: September 26



1898 Composer George Gershwin was born in New York. He writes Porgy and Bess, “Rhapsody in Blue,” Crazy girl, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, I sing about you, among many other shows and songs.

1911 William Brady’s Playhouse hosts the opening of Bought and paid, a new piece of George broadhurst about a rich man who ends up winning the love of his wife. During the 431 performances of the show, an actor of the show, Frank craven, is raised to the rank of celebrity. Craven continues to play stage manager in the original 1938 Broadway production Thornton wilder‘s Our city. Brooks Atkinson once said that Craven was “[t]the best pipe and pants pocket actor in the business. “

1933 The first great success of the Théâtre Group, Men in white, opens at the Broadhurst Theater. The show, written by Sidney kingsley, is about a doctor who has to deal with decisions about love versus duty. Problems include abortion and social reform, the style of theater for which the Group Theater is becoming known. Lee strasberg is leading a cast of what will become a group of very influential people in theater: Luther adler, Clifford odets, J. Edouard Bromberg, and Ruth nelson. Elia Kazan has only one line, “Hello, honey.” He won the Pulitzer Prize for theater in 1934 and served as a model for all future hospital dramas.

1957 “It all started tonight” at the Winter Garden Theater as West Side Story opens. The Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurent musical is based on Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet, but New York’s teenage gangs pitted against each other instead of Verona’s dueling families. It includes classic songs such as “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere”. The show is choreographed and directed by Pierre Gennaro and Jerome Robbins, who proposed the original concept for the series in 1949: “East Side Story”. The room has evolved, with new music, a new place, and a new ethnicity, to become what it is tonight. Larry Kert, Carol Laurent, and Chita rivera Star. A film version starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer and George Chakiris (who was a member of the original London cast) was released in 1961.

1968 Robert shawthe drama The man in the glass cabin opens, starting a six-month run that earns him 1969 Tony Award nominations for Best Play, Best Direction (Harold Pinter) and best actor in a play for Donald Pleasance, who plays a Nazi war criminal on trial.

1985 Lily tomlin stars in Jane wagnerthe solo game of Searching for signs of intelligent life in the universe, opening at the Plymouth Theater for a 391-performance run. Tomlin’s performance earned her the 1986 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. 15 years later, Tomlin returned to Broadway in a revival of the play at the Booth Theater.

1998 Matthieu bournethe newly choreographed theatrical version of the ballet Swan Lake, a hit in both London and Los Angeles, begins its Broadway tour at the Neil Simon Theater. The dance / theater performance, with men dancing the swan roles usually assigned to women, is co-produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Catherine Doré. Bourne wins two Tony Awards for the show (for director of a musical and choreographer of a musical) despite the show’s ineligibility as a musical. “I am absolutely amazed,” Bourne said in his acceptance speech. “Best director of a musical that’s not even a musical.”

2013 Cherry Jones, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Zechariah Quinto are a family adrift in an ocean of memories in a Broadway revival of the acclaimed 1945 drama by Tennessee Williams Glass factory, opening at the Booth Theater. The critically acclaimed production is directed by Jean Tiffany.

2015 In your arms, a “dance-theater musical” with a score by Ragtime and Seussical composer Stephen Flaherty, opens at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, California. The show consists of ten vignettes written by Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage and Alfred Uhry.

2021 Fifteen months after the originally scheduled date, the 74th annual Tony Awards are held at the Winter Garden Theater, the first time the ceremony has returned to a Broadway theater since 1999. Audra McDonald hosts the awards, which air on Paramount +, a premiere of the Tony Awards. Leslie Odom, Jr. hosts a concert celebrating Broadway’s comeback on CBS right after. Reflecting a season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, only 14 plays and four musicals are eligible for the evening’s honors.

More birthdays today: TS Eliot (1888-1965). Philippe Bosco (1930-2018). Mary Beth injured (born 1946). Ben Shenkman (born 1968).

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