Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: December 17

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and Robert Viagas, Anne Bradley and Christopher Reichheld
17 Dec 2015

1906 Opening night for Lew Dockstader's Minstrels, the final Broadway appearance for one of the last of the great minstrel shows. It runs 26 performances at The New York Theatre.

1926 Beatrice Lillie and Charles Winninger are featured in the musical revue Oh, Please at the Fulton Theatre. It runs 75 performances.

1927 Sirocco was memorable for being one of Noel Coward's less successful ventures. Daly's Theatre in London houses just 28 performances of the drama, with Ivor Novello, George Coulouris, and Ada King in the cast.

1952 Geraldine McEwan and Leslie Phillips vow For Better, For Worse... at London's Comedy Theatre. Arthur Watkyn's lighthearted look at a young couple searching for a home during a housing shortage will run 607 performances. John Counsell directs.

1953 Franchot Tone stars as a psychoanalyst who gets comically entangled with his patients in Oh, Men! Oh, Women! Written and directed by Edward Chodorov, with a cast that includes Anne Jackson, Larry Blyden, Betsy von Furstenberg, and Gig Young, this show will run nearly 48 weeks at the Henry Miller Theatre.

1962 Actor and playwright Thomas Mitchell dies today at age 70. Mitchell cowrote the comedy Little Accident with Floyd Dell. Later in his career he concentrated on acting, performing on stage in An Inspector Calls, and in numerous films including, "Gone With the Wind."

1980 Broadway opening night for Amadeus, Peter Shaffer's drama about the tragic difference between talent and genius. Tim Curry plays Mozart and Ian McKellen plays Salieri in the play, which opens at the Broadhurst Theatre and runs 1,181 performance. The 1984 film version will win eight Oscars, including Best Picture.

1998 The new musical Parade, directed by Hal Prince, opens today, starring Carolee Carmello and Brent Carver. Jason Robert Brown composed the music and lyrics, and Alfred Uhry wrote the book. The plot concerns the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man wrongly accused of murder and lynched by an angry Atlanta mob in 1915. Parade will go on to win Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Book of a Musical. It is named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle, but runs just 85 performances.

2008 Emmy Award winner Jeremy Piven abruptly departs the acclaimed Broadway revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, citing high levels of mercury. The vacated role of Bobby Gould is filled first by Norbert Leo Butz, and later William H. Macy.

2009 Martin Crimp's adaptation of Moliere's The Misanthrope, starring Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley, opens at the West End's Comedy Theatre. Directed by Thea Sharrock, the production transports the action from 17th-century Paris to modern-day London.

Today's Birthdays: Herbert Beerbohm Tree 1852. Erwin Piscator 1893. Katina Paxinou 1900. Tommy Steele 1936. Susan Watson 1938. Novella Nelson 1939. Bill Pullman 1953. Sarah Paulson 1975.