By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Christopher Reichheld and Anne Bradley
20 Dec 2012
1922 Actor Morris Carnovsky makes his New York debut in The God of Vengeance at the Provincetown Playhouse. The play was written by Sholom Asch. The cast includes Sam Jaffe, Lillian Taiz and Rudolph Schildkraut, who also directed. When the production moves uptown to the Apollo Theatre the following year, producer Harry Weinberger and the cast will become the first in New York City to be convicted by a jury of giving an immoral performance.
1928 Ethel Barrymore gets a theatre named for her, and it drives her to a convent — on stage, that is. The Kingdom of God, Gregorio Martinez Sierra's play, inaugurates the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York. Sister Gracia shuns her luxurious upbringing and the love of a young doctor to care for the abandoned. This production will be forced to close after three months when Barrymore is confined to her home with influenza.
1951 Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh play William Shakespeare's voluptuary tragic lovers in Antony and Cleopatra at the Ziegfeld Theatre. It stays for 66 performances, running in repertory with George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra.
1981 Michael Bennett's Dreamgirls opens on this date. With book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and music by Henry Krieger, the production will serve as a star vehicle for Jennifer Holliday, whose legendary performance of Effie won her a Tony Award. The musical will run more than 1500 performances.
2005 New York transit workers begin a three-day strike, shutting down subways and buses--but not theatres--at the height of the holiday rush. The shows go on, with many Broadway actors seen walking or roller-blading to work.