Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: December 12

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: December 12
 
Matt Smith (center, as Patrick Bateman) and the London cast.
Matt Smith (center, as Patrick Bateman) and the London cast. Manuel Harlan

1902 There will be two debuts in Everyman. Edith Wynne Matthison makes her American debut, and Charles Rann Kennedy makes his stage debut.

1904 Leah Kleschna got a new ending—a happy one—penned especially for Minnie Maddern Fiske, the star and one of the producers. Also in the cast of this tale of a thief who happily reforms are John Mason, George Arliss, and Mary Maddern. The play will run for 131 performances at the Manhattan Theatre.

1921 Actor Sidney Blackmer is The Mountain Man at the Maxine Elliot Theatre. Blackmer heads off to France to shoot the lover of his girl, played by Catherine Dale Owen. This Clare Kummer play will run for 163 performances.

1932 Eva Le Gallienne stages a landmark adaptation of Alice in Wonderland at the Civic Repertory Theatre with Burgess Meredith, Joseph Schildkraut, and Le Gallienne herself as the White Queen. Lavishly designed by Irene Sharaff based on Tenniel's illustrations, the production runs 127 performances. And a loving (that's very loving) artist has her life story recorded in S. N. Behrman's Biography, starring Ina Claire. The Theatre Guild production runs for 267 performances.

1972 Julie Harris plays the emotionally fragile First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln in James Prideaux's The Last of Mrs. Lincoln. It runs 63 performances at the ANTA Theatre, and earns Harris the fourth of her five Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Play.

1985 The long-running Off-Broadway hit Nunsense opens at the Cherry Lane Theatre, where nuns and priests comprise a large part of the audience of the Dan Goggin-directed (and composed) musical. Sister Mary Amnesia is played by Semina De Laurentis. This production runs a whopping 3,672 performances.

1994 Slavs! opens at New York Theatre Workshop tonight. This Tony Kushner play is the self-proclaimed "coda" to his Broadway successes, Angels in America I & II. This production starred Marisa Tomei and Joseph Wiseman and ran 64 performances.

2001 Manhattan Theatre Club "breaks ground" inside the dilapidated Biltmore Theatre for a refurbishment of the venerable playhouse as its new Broadway headquarters. Once host to Hair and Barefoot in the Park, the Biltmore has been dark since 1987, landmarked, but mildewed and crumbling, unable to reopen without expensive repairs. The theatre will reopen in 2003 with Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour.

2002 Nora Ephron's playwriting debut, Imaginary Friends, opens on Broadway at the Barrymore Theatre. The play with music—by Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia—stars Cherry Jones and Swoosie Kurtz, respectively, as personal and literary rivals Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman.

Today's Birthdays: Rachel Crothers 1878. Edward G. Robinson 1893. Alan Schneider 1917. John Osborne 1929. Cathy Rigby 1952. Anne Marie Bobby 1967.

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