By David Gewirtzman
and Anne Bradley, Robert Viagas, Christopher Reichheld and Sam Maher
11 Dec 2012
1911 The solemnly titled Through Death Valley; Or, the Mormon Peril opens at the Shakespeare theatre in London's Clapham district. Jack Fortescue stars in this Joseph Le Brandt drama.
1943 The New York City Center of Music and Drama opens tonight with a concert by the New York Philharmonic.
1947 Paul Hartman and Grace Hartman's Angel in the Wings hovers at the Coronet Theatre in New York. Elaine Stritch sings "Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I don't want to leave the Congo" and she doesn't — the show runs for over a year.
1958 Christopher Plummer plays the devil in Elia Kazan's highly stylized carnival-setting adaptation of the Bible story of J.B. which opens tonight at the ANTA Theatre. Titled J.B. Archibald MacLeish's drama features Pat Hingle as the man whose faith in God gets the ultimate test. It runs 364 performances and wins both the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award as Best Play.
1983 Noises Off, a new comedy by Michael Frayn involving a theatre company touring with a sex farce entitled "Nothing On," opens at the Brooks Atkinson tonight. It stars Dorothy Loudon, Brian Murray and Victor Garber. The show will be revived on Broadway, again at the Brooks Atkinson, in a 2001 production starring Patti LuPone and Peter Gallagher.
1989 Cy Coleman, David Zippel, and Larry Gelbart's new musical, City of Angels, opens tonight at the Virginia Theatre. Directed by Michael Blakemore, the movie spoof has elaborate sets thanks to virtuoso Robin Wagner. Cast members included Randy Graff, James Naughton, Rachel York, and Gregg Edelman. The show will run 879 performances and win the Tony Award as Best Musical of 1990.
2005 Living legend Chita Rivera performs a stage autobiography in Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, directed by Graciela Daniele and featuring a script by Terrence McNally and some new songs by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, along with familiar tunes from her many hits over the previous five decades. The show will run 72 performances at the Schoenfeld Theatre.
2011 A revised revival of Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever — starring Harry Connick, Jr. as a conflicted shrink who uncovers a patient's past life in hypnosis sessions, and then falls in love with the comely ghost — opens on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. Newly reconceived by playwright Peter Parnell and director Michael Mayer, the production splits the two roles played by Barbara Harris in the original 1965 production between David Turner (Davey Gamble) and Jessie Mueller (Melinda Wells). The revisal receives largely negative reviews and closes after 57 performances.