PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: DECEMBER 9

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and Robert Viagas, Christopher Reichheld, Sam Maher and Anne Bradley
09 Dec 2013

1902 Birthday of actress Margaret Hamilton, who will appear on Broadway in plays including The Farmer Takes a Wife, The Dark Tower, Goldilocks and a revival of Our Town, but who will forever be remembered as The Wicked Witch of the West in the MGM film "The Wizard of Oz".



1903 U.S. premiere of George Bernard Shaw's drama of the Life Force, Candida, starring Dorothy Donnelly and Arnold Daly at the Princess Theatre.

1903 Also today, actress Jane Cowl makes her New York debut in Sweet Kitty Bellairs, a comedy by David Belasco.

1911 Mrs. Patrick Campbell stars as an opportunist trying to give her husband a Bella Donna at London's St. James' Theatre. J.B. Fagen adapted this play from Robert Hichens' novel. Also appearing are Lydia Branscombe and George Alexander. There will be 253 performances.

1931 It looks like Springtime for Henry at the Bijou Theatre. Benn W. Levy's comedy offers a look at a man intrigued by his new secretary [a likely story !]. Leslie Banks, Helen Chandler, and Nigel Bruce appear in this 199 performance run.

1953 José Ferrer stars in a limited engagement of William Shakespeare's Richard III at New York's City Center. The cast also includes Vincent Price as the Duke of Buckingham, Maureen Stapleton as Anne, and Florence Reed as Queen Margaret.

1968 The National Repertory Theatre loses its control over the house of Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. The new managers are the Circle in the Square company of New York.

1973 Hal Linden and Barbara McNair play Sid and Babe as an interracial romance in a revival of The Pajama Game, directed by George Abbott, also starring Cab Calloway and Tiger Haynes. It runs 65 performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

1974 Peter Ustinov and George S. Irving play the just-assassinated leaders of the Soviet Union and the U.S.A., in Ustinov's oddball afterlife comedy, Who's Who in Hell, which runs 8 performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Also in the distinguished cast: Olympia Dukakis, Josef Sommer and Beau Bridges.

1999 Ann Hampton Callaway, Everett Bradley and Laura Benanti star in Swing!, a musical revue featuring swing music by various composers such as Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. The lively show opens tonight and will go on to run for a substantial 461 performances and receive six 2000 Tony Award nominations including one for Best Musical.

2002 One of the most memorable flops of the new century opens at the Minskoff Theatre: Dance of the Vampires, a campy musical about vampires stalking the European village of Lower Belabartokovich. Jim Steinman, who wrote many songs for rocker Meat Loaf, rolls out his first full Broadway score. The production had been a long-running hit in Austria and Germany, but after six weeks of previews on Broadway it will stagger on for 56 performances after critics hammer stakes into its heart. The show marks the (brief) return to Broadway of Phantom of the Opera star Michael Crawford as the bloodthirsty Count von Krolock.

2007 Mark Twain's 1890's farce Is He Dead? gets its long-delayed Broadway debut after the manuscript is rediscovered by a researcher, and playwright David Ives does a contemporary adaptation. Norbert Leo Butz, Jenn Gambatese, Byron Jennings, Michael McGrath and John McMartin are featured in the cast.

2010 Donny & Marie - A Broadway Christmas, a holiday music and dance revue starring the showbiz siblings Donny and Marie Osmond, begins its limited engagement at the Marquis Theatre.

More of Today's Birthdays: Broderick Crawford 1911. Dina Merrill 1925. Dick Van Patten 1928. Buck Henry 1930. Judi Dench 1934. Michael Nouri 1945. John Malkovich 1953. Donny Osmond 1957. Mario Cantone 1959.