PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: SEPTEMBER 12
By David Gewirtzman
1866 The Broadway musical is born. The Black Crook opens at Niblo's Garden, a musical extravaganza featuring a melodramatic plot and scantily-dressed ballerinas who serve as chorus girls. Tickets ranged from five cents to $1.50. It was the first Broadway show to run for more than a year. A musical starring Zizi Jeanmaire called The Girl in Pink Tights, which is based on the story of this show's creation, will open on Broadway in 1954. Many other influences created the musical as it is known today, but Black Crook remains the consensus earliest model.
1927 Sigmund Romberg's operetta My Maryland, based on the Clyde Fitch play Barbara Frietchie opens a 312-performance run at Jolson's 59th Street Theatre, featuring Evelyn Herbert.
1960 The old Mansfield Theatre is rechristened with the current name, the Brooks Atkinson. A show produced by David Merrick, Vintage '60, is the first to open there.
1992 Legend of the stage and screen Anthony Perkins dies of AIDS. He is best remembered for his performance in the Hitchcock classic, "Psycho," but he also had quite a run in the theatre as an actor and director. He starred on Broadway in the musical Greenwillow in 1960, in Equus in 1975, and directed the Off-Broadway production of Steambath in 1970.
2000 Britain's Improbable Theatre bring their spontaneous theatrical performance piece, Lifegame, to Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theatre. The improvisational work, in which a civilian is interviewed on stage about his or her life and then is witness to an instant interpretation of their milestone events by an acting troupe, was a hit in England and southern California before reaching New York stage. The event was created by improvisational theatre artist Keith Johnstone and offered a new character and a fresh life story eight times a week. Though the OB run was brief, it did inspire a TV series of the same name on the TNN cable network the following year.
2001 All Broadway and Off-Broadway shows remain dark today, the day after terrorist attacks destroy the World Trade Center and travel into and around Manhattan is disrupted.
2002 The Ragtime team of Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens and Terrence McNally re-team for the Off-Broadway musical A Man of No Importance at New York's Lincoln Center Theater. It will run through the end of the year.
2004 Jerome Chodorov, the playwright whose My Sister Eileen inspired the musical Wonderful Town, dies of natural causes at age 93. His theatre writing credits include Junior Miss, Anniversary Waltz, The Ponder Heart, Tunnel of Love, The Girl in Pink Tights, The French Touch, I Had a Ball, A Talent for Murder, Anastasia Affaire (with Guy Bolton and songs by Wright and Forrest), A Community of Two, 3 Bags Full and the revised book of The Great Waltz.
2010 The New York City premiere of Me, Myself & I, Edward Albee's play touching on some of his favorite ideas — parenting, children, identity, reality — opens at Playwrights Horizons. The play is directed by Emily Mann, who staged the 2008 world premiere at the McCarter Theatre, and stars Elizabeth Ashley, Zachary Booth, Brian Murray, Natalia Payne, Stephen Payne and Preston Sadleir.
2011 The Kennedy Center's critically acclaimed production of James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical Follies, opens at Broadway's Marquis Theatre. The cast is headed by Bernadette Peters as Sally Durant Plummer, Jan Maxwell as Phyllis Rogers Stone, Danny Burstein as Buddy Plummer, Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone and Elaine Paige as Carlotta Campion.
Today's Birthdays: Maurice Chevalier 1888. Ian Holm 1931. Gregg Edelman 1958. Will Chase 1970.
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