1929 The new musical Show Girl starring Ruby Keeler opens tonight at the Ziegfeld Theatre. During the out-of-town tryouts, Al Jolson came to the rescue when wife Keeler froze onstage, mid-show. Jolson jumped out of the audience, onto the stage and began to sing Keeler's next number, "Liza," in an effort to get the actress back on track.
1962 The Klondike Gold Rush is the setting of Foxy, the new Robert Emmett Dolan-Johnny Mercer musical that premieres today at the Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City in the Yukon. The book is by Ring Lardner, Jr. and Ian McLellan Hunter, based on Ben Jonson's Volpone. Bert Lahr will plays his final role on Broadway when the production opens at New York's Ziegfeld Theatre for what will prove to be a short run.
1985 Singin' in the Rain, the musical based on the 1952 MGM film, opens at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway. Betty Comden and Adolph Green adapted their screenplay for the stage with music by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. Twyla Tharp directs and choreographs the production which runs 367 performances until closing May 18 of the next year.
1987 Michael Bennett dies, age 45, from complications caused by AIDS. Bennett, who made his Broadway debut as a dancer at age 18 in Subways are for Sleeping, was one of the most influential director choreographers of his time. Among his greatest successes were Follies (choreographed and co-directed with Harold Prince), A Chorus Line, and Dreamgirls.
1998 Joel Grey, the original Amos Hart from the revival of Chicago, returns to the role at Broadway's Shubert Theatre for four weeks. Enamored with the role, he will then step into the London production, then reprise it the Chicago version.
2002 Movie star Anne Heche takes over the leading role in Broadway's Proof, opposite Len Cariou.
2013 Manhattan Theatre Club presents the American premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney's Choir Boy, opening Off-Broadway at New York City Center Stage II. Jeremy Pope, Chuck Cooper and Austin Pendleton star in the play about one student's desire to take his rightful place as the leader of his prep school's legendary gospel choir.
More of Today's Birthdays: Alan Webb 1906. Joseph Harris 1927. Brock Peters 1927. Ron Silver 1946. Jarrod Emick 1969.