Tuesday, May 18, 2021

This Week in Broadway History: May 18 - 24

This Week in Broadway History:

May 18 - 24


May 20, 1916: The Seagull by Anton Chekhov made its Broadway debut at the Bandbox Theatre.

May 21, 1959:
 Curtain up! Light the lights! Everything's coming up Gypsy
, which opened at the Broadway Theatre. Ethel Merman fans rejoiced!

May 22, 1961: It has been 60 years since a show opened on Broadway on this date. The show was Mandingo, it gave Dennis Hopper his Broadway debut (and his only credit), and it lasted 8 performances at the Lyceum Theatre.

May 23, 1922: For many years, Abie's Irish Rose was the longest running play in Broadway history, and 99 years after its debut at the Fulton Theatre, with 2,327 performances, it is still the third longest running!

May 24, 1966:
 It's today! Mame and her bugle opened a new window when the show opened at the Winter Garden Theatre, winning Angela, Bea and Frankie Tony Awards, and earning the show a 1,508 performance run.


May 18: Auntie Mame novelist Patrick Dennis (100 years!), actor Robert Morse, Mean Girls scribe Tina Fey

May 19: playwright Lorraine HansberryTommy composer Pete Townsend

May 20: icon Cher, actor Judy Kuhn, writer/lyricist/actor Lisa Kron, actor Sierra Boggess

May 21: actor Mark Jocoby, director Tina Landau, actor Paolo Montalban

Barbara Barrie     Asmeret Ghebremichael

Alex Lacamoire     Paolo Montalban

May 22:
 actor Laurence Olivier, actor Linda Emond, dancer/actor Asmeret Ghebremichael

May 23: Company actors Barbara Barrie and Charles Kimbrough, Les Miz and City of Angels actor Randy Graff

May 24: music legend (and the guy behind The Girl From the North Country) Bob Dylan, actor Alfred Molina, orchestrator/conductor Alex Lacamoire


Oh, to have been around this week 72 years ago! We could have caught shows at the Ziegfeld, Coronet or Adelphi Theatres. And the Mark Hellinger was still legit.

Can you imagine? The original (and Tony-winning) production of Kiss Me, Kate was at the New Century, and Wizard of Oz fans could see Ray Bolger in his Tony-winning turn in Where's Charley?  at the St. James.

The Tony Awards' first Best Play, 1948's Mister Roberts, starring Tony-winner Henry Fonda, was still drawing huge crowds at the Alvin, while 1949's Best Play was just getting started: Death of a Salesman, starring Lee J. Cobb in a legendary performance. The play also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The hottest ticket of the season, however, was the newly opened South Pacific at the Majestic Theatre. Starring Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, the show would go on to win the Best Musical Tony and the Pulitzer prize. The show swept the Tonys, winning 10, including the rare awarding of all four acting awards. It ran a then unheard of 1,925 performances.

What a time to be alive!


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