1904 Julian Eltinge, the famed female impersonator, makes his Broadway debut in Mr. Wix of Wickham, the unsuccessful musical at the Bijou Theatre. 19-year-old Jerome Kern writes some of the songs for the show. Kern goes on to write music for Show Boat and Sunny during his long, successful career. Also on this date, E. H. Sothern, Shakespeare actor extraordinaire, stars in a Chicago production of Romeo and Juliet.
1910 For the first time, George M. Cohan directs and writes a non-musical triumph. Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford, his new comedy, opens at the Gaiety Theatre. It is based on the novel by George Randolph Chester about a con man who reforms. The show runs for 424 performances with its stars, Frances Ring and Hale Hamilton.
1962 Opening performance of Eric Bentley's translated version of Bertolt Brecht's Mann Ist Mann. Another version, translated by Gerhard Nellhaus, opened the night before at The Living Theatre. The New Repertory Company stages tonight's production at the Masque Theatre, directed by John Hancock and starring John Heffernan and Olympia Dukakis. Both productions run 175 performances.
1974 The Winter Garden Theatre is evacuated due to a bomb threat, at the first preview for the revival of Gypsy. Gene Brown's book, Showtime, notes that librettist Arthur Laurents joked with the audience during the break that acclaimed star Angela Lansbury was quite a "bombshell" herself. The show resumes shortly after the evacuation.
1996 David Hare's Skylight, about a successful businessman who attempts to rehash a past affair with a young teacher, opens at Broadway's Royale Theatre. The Richard Eyre-helmed production stars Lia Williams, Christian Camargo, and Michael Gambon. The production runs 116 performances before closing December 29.
2000 Less than two weeks after ending its run at Second Stage Theatre, the revival of August Wilson's Jitney reopens at the larger Union Square Theatre Off-Broadway. The first play written by the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright looks into the lives of a group of black men working at a gypsy cab company (or jitney station) in 1970s Pittsburgh.
2001 Led by Cristyne Lategano Nicholas, the NYC Tourism Chief, and Tim Zagat, president of the famous Zagat surveys of restaurants, New York City business leaders rally at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre to express support for the theatre industry in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and to urge theatre fans to continue buying tickets.
2002 Nunsense, the Off-Broadway novelty musical about a convent full of wacky nuns, spawns its fourth sequel: Meshuggah-Nuns, an entirely new show "with a touch of Yiddish," at the Fireside Theatre in Minneapolis. Previous entries in the series: Nunsense, Nunsense II, Sister Amnesia's Country Western Nunsense Jamboree, and Nuncrackers (the Christmas themed show), not counting Nunsense A-Men, the original show, but with an all-male cast.
2004 The television adaptation of Tony Kushner's Tony- and Pulitzer-winning drama Angels in America wins a record 11 Emmy Awards.
2006 Elizabeth Allen, 77, the stage, film, and television actor and model who played a feisty, love-hungry tourist in the Broadway musical Do I Hear a Waltz?, dies at Wingate Nursing Home in Fishkill, NY.
2012 The world premiere of Jay Kuo, Marc Acito and Lorenzo Thione's Allegiance—A New American Musical, charting the lives of Japanese Americans who were placed in concentration camps on U.S. soil during World War II, opens at The Old Globe in San Diego, California. Directed by Stafford Arima, the production stars Telly Leung, George Takei and Lea Salonga. The production transfers to Broadway three years later.
Today's Birthdays: Malcolm Duncan 1881. Ernest Truex 1889. Frances Farmer 1913. Rosemary Harris 1927. David McCallum 1933. Jeremy Irons 1948. Twiggy 1949. Rex Smith 1956. Sanaa Lathan 1971. Stephanie J. Block 1972. Ramin Karimloo 1978.
Watch highlights from the 2012 world premiere of Allegiance: