By Robert Viagas
and Anne Bradley and Steve Luber
10 Nov 2012
1925 Birthday of Richard Burton, hard-living actor who will star in Hamlet, The Lady's Not for Burning and Private Lives on Broadway, but perhaps most memorably as King Arthur in the musical Camelot, and in the film version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf opposite his wife Elizabeth Taylor.
1964 Critics wanted a whole lot more from Something More!, a musical that ran only 15 performances at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. What they got was a well-received Barbara Cook but an otherwise apparently undistinguished show by composer Sammy Fain, lyricists Alan Bergman & Marilyn Bergman and librettist Nate Monaster. Jule Styne directed.
1965 Long before Driving Miss Daisy came the Broadway play-with-music, The Zulu and the Zayda, whose plot — according to Best Plays annual — may be summed up as, "the family of a frisky Jewish granddad hires a Zulu as a companion for him." The show, starring Menasha Skulnik, Ossie Davis and Louis Gossett, Jr., was supposed to open Nov. 9, but the East Coast black-out postponed the opening by 24 hours. Gentle reviews and Skulnik's lasting appeal from his Yiddish theatre days, carried the show to 179 performances.
1970 Danny Kaye as Noah? It worked for Richard Rodgers and Martin Charnin, whose musical retelling of Noah's Ark , Two by Two, begins a ten-month run. The production will be remembered for Kaye's increasingly wild improvisations and ad-libs, which were scarcely affected by a broken leg that caused him to play the part in a wheelchair.
1985 The first day of advance ticket sales for the Dec. 5 opening of Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind, with a star-studded cast, sets a new one-day mark for Off Broadway of $41,210.
1981 Oh, Brother!, Michael Valenti's musical based on The Comedy of Errors relocates Shakespeare's story of mistaken identity to revolutionary Iran. The taking of American hostages during its prep period did little to help its appeal, and it closed after just three performances, despite the presence of Judy Kaye, David Carroll, Harry Groener and Richard B. Shull. The cast album will inspire a modest cult of fans.
1997 An array of wondrous props and puppets fail to help the Gip Hoppe satire, Jackie, bring in the crowds. A London mounting also had difficulty finding a mainstream audience for this carnival-like look at the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
2004 The Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera plays its 7,000th performance at today's matinee.