PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: JUNE 17
By David Gewirtzman
1943 George Marion, Jr. and Thomas "Fats" Waller's Early to Bed — the first musical comedy of the 1943-1944 season — opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre. Described as "a fairy tale for grown-ups only," it will go on to run for 380 performances.
1955 American producer and playwright John Golden dies at age 81. First an actor and then a writer, Golden eventually found success as the producer of such plays as The First Year and Seventh Heaven. A Broadway house bearing his name serves as a memorial.
1969 Oh! Calcutta! opens at the Eden Theater in New York. The adult-oriented review boasts a mostly-nude cast performing skits by the likes of John Lennon, Samuel Beckett, and Sam Shepard. While this production will have a long and successful run, it is the 1976 revival that will enter the history books as one of the longest-running musicals of all time, with 5,969 played performances.
1972 Tradition is broken as Fiddler on the Roof becomes the longest-running Broadway production, its 3,225 performances allowing it to surpass the previous record set by Life With Father. The Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick-Joseph Stein musical, based on Sholem Aleichem stories of "Tevye and His Daughters," has reportedly been playing at a loss for over a year in an attempt to break the long-run record and will soon close up shop.
1980 After playing 12 performances at Broadway's Morosco Theatre, Billy Bishop Goes to War transfers to Off-Broadway's Theater de Lys. The musical, written and composed by John Gray in collaboration with Eric Peterson, was inspired by the book "Winged Warfare," in which a young pilot named Billy Bishop recounts his service during World War I.
1999 Audiences attending the New York Shakespeare Festival's first preview of The Taming of the Shrew starring Allison Janney today at Central Park's Delacorte Theater will also enjoy its $4.35 million renovation. Changes include traps in the stage, re-built walkways under the seating for the actors, streamlined concession areas, new cedar siding, new bleachers and seating.
More of Today's Birthdays: Sammy Fain 1902. Ralph Bellamy 1904. Virginia Martin 1919. Barry Manilow 1943. Mark Linn-Baker 1954. Tracie Bennett 1961. John Gallagher, Jr. 1984.
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