Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: December 29

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

1919 The Lafayette Players of New York, a black troupe, opens the newest theatre in Philadelphia, the Dunbar, with a production of Within the Law. The house, named for poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, seats 1,400 and devotes itself to black productions for black audiences. The name will later be changed to the Lincoln Theatre. It will be demolished in the 1950s.

1926 Devil in the Cheese (yes, it's a comedy), written by Tom Cushing, has a cast that includes Bela Lugosi as a Greek priest. An archaeologist eats some ancient cheese and suddenly understands his lovesick daughter. The play will run for 157 performances at the Charles Hopkins and Plymouth Theatres.

1932 Twentieth Century is a reworking by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur of Charles Bruce Millholland's play. This comedy will run at the Broadhurst Theatre for 19 weeks. Moffat Johnston and Eugenie Leontovich are featured in the cast.

1953 Judith Anderson and Mildred Dunnock are In the Summer House. Directed by Jose Quintero, this story of a dominating mother written by Jane Bowles will run, to some acclaim, for only 55 performances. A Joanne Akalaitis-directed revival at Lincoln Center in 1993 also fared poorly.

1973 Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst star in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten at the Morosco Theatre. it runs 313 performances and the performances become definitive for a generation.

1998 The Broadway-bound revival of Annie Get Your Gun, starring Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat, begins performances tonight at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The Kennedy Center engagement is the production's only pre-Broadway stop. Annie Get Your Gun will go on to win two Tony Awards and run for more than 1,000 performances.

2004 Sylvia Herscher, 91, Broadway agent, general manager, music publisher and producer, who received a special 2000 Tony Award honor for her life's work, dies today in New York.

2014 Motown legends The Temptations and The Four Tops begin a special week-long engagement at Broadway's Palace Theatre.

Today's Birthdays: Jules Bledsoe 1897. Viveca Lindfors 1920. Inga Swenson 1932. Joseph Maher 1933. Mary Tyler Moore 1936. Jon Voight 1938. Ted Danson 1947. Yvonne Elliman 1951. Charlaine Woodard 1955. Jennifer Ehle 1969. Jude Law 1972.