Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 29

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 29
 
Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards in <i>A Moon for the Misbegotten</i>.
Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards in A Moon for the Misbegotten. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1919 The Lafayette Players of New York open Philadelphia's new Dunbar Theatre with a production of Within the Law. The theatre, named for poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, seats 1,400 and devotes itself to black productions for black audiences. The name is later changed to the Lincoln Theatre. It is demolished in the 1950s.

1926 Devil in the Cheese (yes, it's a comedy), written by Tom Cushing, has a cast that includes Bela Lugosi as a Greek priest. An archaeologist eats some ancient cheese and suddenly understands his lovesick daughter. The play runs 157 performances at the Charles Hopkins and Plymouth Theatres.

1932 Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur transform Charles Bruce Millholland's unproduced play Napoleon of Broadway into the comedy Twentieth Century. It runs at the Broadhurst Theatre for 19 weeks. Moffat Johnston and Eugenie Leontovich are featured in the cast. In 1978, Cy Coleman, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green's adapt the play(s) into the musical On the Twentieth Century.

1953 Judith Anderson and Mildred Dunnock are In the Summer House. José Quintero directs Jane Bowles' story of a dominating mother, to some acclaim, for only 55 performances. A 1993 Joanne Akalaitis-directed revival at Lincoln Center also fares poorly.

1973 Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst star in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten at the Morosco Theatre. It runs 313 performances and the performances become definitive for a generation.

1998 The Broadway-bound revival of Annie Get Your Gun, starring Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat, begins performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The Kennedy Center engagement is the production's only pre-Broadway stop. The revival goes on to win two Tony Awards and run for more than 1,000 performances.

2004 Sylvia Herscher, 91, Broadway agent, general manager, music publisher, and producer, who received a special 2000 Tony Award honor for her life's work, dies in New York.

2014 Motown legends The Temptations and The Four Tops begin a special week-long engagement at Broadway's Palace Theatre.

Today's Birthdays: Jules Bledsoe 1897. Viveca Lindfors 1920. Inga Swenson 1932. Joseph Maher 1933. Mary Tyler Moore 1936. Jon Voight 1938. Ted Danson 1947. Yvonne Elliman 1951. Charlaine Woodard 1955. Jennifer Ehle 1969. Jude Law 1972.

Watch highlights from the 2015 Broadway revival of the musical On the Twentieth Century:

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