1950 Variety reports today that the standout feature in Guys and Dolls, which is having a tryout in Philadelphia, is Abe Burrows' book. Usually a score is most anticipated, but "the Frank Loesser score is likely to come into its rightful prominence when it has been reorchestrated to give greater emphasis to melody," says Variety. The Guys and Dolls book and score will win over the critics when it opens on Broadway on November 24 of this year.
1964 New Yorkers can either head downtown to the Sullivan Street Playhouse to see tonight's production of The Fantasticks, or they can stay home and watch the broadcast on the NBC television network. The Off-Broadway production has the honor of being the only one ever to compete directly with a televised broadcast of itself. More than 35 years later, The Fantasticks is the longest-running musical in the world and also the most frequently produced. It has been playing since May 1960 in New York, racking up 16,000-plus performances (as of summer 2000).
1990 Once on This Island opens on Broadway tonight at the Booth Theatre. Actress-singer LaChanze, who recently replaced Audra McDonald as Sarah in Ragtime and also appeared in the 1995 Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Company, is the star. Jerry Dixon and Kecia Lewis-Evans co-star in this musical about Caribbean fairy tales and the collision of two cultures as a young, French Antillean woman (LaChanze) falls in love with an American aristocrat (Dixon). The show, which transferred from Playwright's Horizons, runs 469 performances.
2000 Gwen Verdon, born January 16 1925, one of the quintessential Broadway musical stars of the 20th century, died in her sleep while visiting her daughter, Nicole Greiner. Verdon won four Tony Awards over her three-decade stage career, for Can-Can in 1953; Damn Yankees in 1955; New Girl in Town in 1958 (in a tie with Thelma Ritter); and 1959 for Redhead. She was also nominated for her portrayals in Sweet Charity and Chicago.
--By Sam Maher and Ernio Hernandez