1917 Birthday of Betty Comden, Broadway lyricist and librettist, mainly in collaboration with Adolph Green. Her works include On the Town, Wonderful Town, Peter Pan, On the Twentieth Century, The Will Rogers Follies, Singin' in the Rain, Bells Are Ringing, and many more.
1944 Elsa Shelley's Pick-Up Girl exposes the life of a 15-year-old girl who has a venereal disease and must sort her life out in a hospital and then reform school. It plays five months at the 48th Street Theatre.
1947 William Inge's Farther Off from Heaven opens the first production of the Margo Jones Theatre in Dallas, Texas.
1960 If you could scrape together $55, producer Lore Noto might have called on you. He was trying to get a musical adaptation of an Edmond Rostand play, Les Romanesques, up and running. Tonight Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt provide the book, lyrics, and score for a new musical The Fantasticks (no relation to the 1900 comedy of that title, starring Mrs. Patrick Campbell). At the Sullivan Street Theatre, the show stars Jerry Orbach, Rita Gardner, and Kenneth Nelson. 42 years follow, follow, follow, follow....
1988 David Mamet has an immaculate conception of his own as his play Speed-the-Plow, starring Madonna in her Broadway debut, opens. Joe Mantegna and Ron Silver co-star in the production that plays at the Royale Theatre for 278 performances.
1993 John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Terrence McNally work their magic on Kiss of the Spider Woman, based on Manuel Puig's novel about two men confined in a prison cell. Harold Prince directs Chita Rivera, Brent Carver, and Anthony Crivello in the production that lasts 906 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre. The production wins seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
2012 Nathan Lane stars as salesman Theodore Hickman in Eugene O'Neill's epic The Iceman Cometh at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Among the denizens of a saloon in the Robert Falls-directed production are Brian Dennehy and Stephen Ouimette. Three years later, the production transfers to New York for a limited engagement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Watch highlights from Chita: A Legendary Celebration, including Chita Rivera performing "Where You Are" from Kiss of the Spider Woman: