By Robert Viagas
and Sam Maher and Steve Luber
30 Oct 2012
1940 Ethel Merman knocks 'em dead in Cole Porter's Panama Hattie, which opens today at the 46th Street Theatre for a 501-performance run that introduces the standard "Make It Another Old-Fashioned, Please."
1949 A new musical based on Alan Paton's novel "Cry, the Beloved Country" opens tonight at the Music Box Theatre. Kurt Weill provides the music for tonight's Lost in the Stars, whose book and lyrics are by Maxwell Anderson. The story follows black suffering in South Africa and starred Todd Duncan, Leslie Banks, Warren Coleman, and Inez Matthews. What is interesting here is that the musical dealt with racism, but blacks weren't even allowed to sit in the orchestra of the theatre. The show closed after only 28 performances due to this "no coloreds downstairs" policy and also because of a wide variety of reviews. Some critics loved the show, while others called it "artful artlessness."
1956 A revival of George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara opens tonight at the Martin Beck Theatre. Charles Laughton directs this star-studded cast, which includes Glynis Johns, Eli Wallach, Cornelia Otis Skinner and Burgess Meredith. The revival will run 29 weeks, racking up 232 performances.
1963 The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Edward Albee opens tonight at the Martin Beck Theatre. John Chapman, critic for the Daily News, calls the show "magnificent theatre." Colleen Dewhurst, Roscoe Lee Browne, and Michael Dunn co-star in this show that is directed by Alan Schneider. Albee's inspiration is the Carson McCullers' story of the same name. The show will run for 123 performances.
1975 Tom Stoppard's Travesties opens at the Barrymore Theatre tonight. Running 156 performances, it stars John Wood and Tim Curry. It focuses on notables like James Joyce and Lenin passing through Zurich in 1917.
2001 Also today, a Halloween Eve resurrection for Broadway's The Rocky Horror Show, which had suspended performances Sept. 23, in the wake of the World Trade Center terrorist attack. The campy musical goes to to play another two months, finally closing Jan. 6, 2002.
2003 The Wicked Witch of the West rides again in #Wicked, a musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Idina Menzel (who will win a Tony Award for her performance) and Kristin Chenoweth play the witches, with veteran Joel Grey hoofing as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The production also wecomes back to Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz.