PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: NOVEMBER 8

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Sam Maher and Steve Luber
November 8, 2013

1913 Birthday of June Hovik, better known as June Havoc, even better known as namesake of Baby June, the character based on her in the musical Gypsy. The show pretty accurately sums up her childhood with a hard-driving mom in the dying years of vaudeville, and a sister who later becomes Gypsy Rose Lee. Havoc had a busy Broadway career of her own, appearing in Pal Joey, Mexican Hayride, Affairs of State and her own play, Marathon '33. She's present to advise the cast of the original 1959 Gypsy as well as the 2003 revival.



1926 Opening night at the Imperial Theatre for the George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin musical Oh, Kay!, about hijinks involving rumrunners at a Long Island estate. Gertrude Lawrence and Victor Moore are featured in the show, which runs 256 performances and introduces the standards "Someone To Watch Over Me." "Do Do Do" and "Clap Yo' Hands."

1932 Opening night for Jerome Kern's and Oscar Hammerstein II's operetta Music in the Air at the Alvin Theatre, beginning a run of 342 performances. The score includes "I've Told Ev'ry Little Star" and "The Song Is You." The cast includes Walter Slezak, Al Shean, Natalie Hall, and a pre-"I Love Lucy" Vivian Vance.

1939 Life With Father is the family comedy based on Clarence Day’s stories that was written by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, which opens tonight at the Empire Theatre. The cast includes Lindsay himself taking over a role that was turned down by Alfred Lunt. He appears on stage with his offstage wife, Dorothy Stickney. Mr. Lindsay had hoped that the play would run for at least six months. He got his wish; the play ran for over eight years, setting a new record for a nonmusical play, racking up 3,224 performances.

1950 John Gielgud and a young Richard Burton appear together in Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not for Burning at the Royale Theatre for 151 performances. Gielgud also directs the romantic comedy set in the 15th century.

1973 The Boom Boom Room by David Rabe opens tonight at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, marking the first time that Joseph Papp has a show at Lincoln Center. The show has Madeleine Kahn starring as a middle aged woman realizing that her adult life is, in reality, not that much better than her abusive childhood. Charles Durning and Robert Loggia co star in this show that won mixed reviews and a short run of only 37 performances.

1979 #Romantic Comedy opens tonight at the Barrymore Theatre with stars Mia Farrow and Anthony Perkins. The Bernard Slade play will get mixed reviews and win 396 performances.

1990 Six Degrees of Separation opens tonight at Lincoln Center after a successful Off Broadway run. Directed by Jerry Zaks and starring Stockard Channing, Courtney B. Vance and John Cunningham, the show about a black imposter posing as a college friend of a white family's son will run for 485 performances at its new home.

2001 The only men to be seen at the American Airlines Theatre today are in the audience. Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Clare Booth Luce's not altogether affectionate comic treatise on her sex, The Women, features a constellation of contemporary stars including Kristen Johnston and Jennifer Tilly, the latter in a notorious full-frontal nude scene.

2006 After numerous stage adaptations of movies, Broadway gets a musical based on a TV special. Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas opens at the Hilton Theatre and proves to be so popular, it returns the following year. Patrick Page stars as the greedy green title character, with John Cullum as his faithful pooch.

2007 He grunts, he shuffles, he stomps — he sings! Mary Shelley's 19th-century creature is reinvented for Broadway in Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan's musical based on Brooks' 1974 film comedy, opening at the Hilton Theatre. The production stars Roger Bart as Dr. Frankenstein, Megan Mullally as the doctor's love interest Elizabeth, Sutton Foster as comely assistant Inga, Shuler Hensley as The Monster, Andrea Martin as castle matron Frau Blucher, and Christopher Fitzgerald as hunchback Igor.

2011 Venus in Fur, David Ives' two-character play about the relationship between a hungry actress and a controlling writer-director, opens on Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Nina Arianda, who created the role of Vanda in the production's 2010 Off-Broadway premiere, stars opposite Hugh Dancy. Arianda will win a 2012 Tony Award for her performance.

2012 Annie, the 1977 show that introduced generations of children to the tuneful optimism of traditional Broadway musicals, opens in a new production on Broadway at the Palace Theatre. The 35th anniversary revival of the tale of a red-headed orphan in the care of a billionaire Republican during the Great Depression stars Lilla Crawford in the title role, Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan, and Anthony Warlow as Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks.

More of Today's Birthdays: Bram Stoker 1847. Peter Weiss 1916. Gene Saks 1921. Nicholas Kepros 1932. Alfre Woodard 1952. Chuck Cooper 1954. Parker Posey 1968. Gretchen Mol 1972. David Turner 1974.