PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: DECEMBER 7

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Anne Bradley, Christopher Reichheld and Sam Maher
December 7, 2013

1879 Composer Rudolf Friml (1879-1972) is born in Prague. He will emigrate to the U.S. and become one of the top Broadway operetta composers of the 1910s and 1920s. His works will include The Firefly, Rose-Marie, The Vagabond King, The Three Musketeers and two editions of The Ziegfeld Follies(1921 and 1923).



1918 It's a Scandal at London's Strand Theatre. This Cosmo Hamilton comedy exposes a woman pretending to be married to a gentleman. Kyrle Bellew and Noel Coward star.

1931 Birthday of Ellen Stewart, whose La Mama Experimental Theatre Club will serve as one of the cornerstones of the Off-Off-Broadway movement.

1932 Walk a Little Faster to the St. James Theatre. You'll see Beatrice Lillie starring in skits by S. J. Perelman. Vernon Duke and E.Y. Harburg provide music, including the song "April in Paris." It will run 15 weeks.

1937 Sybil Thorndike plays the lead in The Trojan Women at London's Adelphi Theatre. Lewis Casson stages this Euripides play.

1946 Laurette Taylor dies today. Her career spanned almost 40 years. Two of her more memorable performances were in Peg O' My Heart, created by her husband J. Hartley Manners; and Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie.

1975 The Norman Conquests, a trilogy of three comedies, opens tonight at the Morosco Theatre. Alan Ayckbourn’s set of plays includes stars Ken Howard, Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, and Estelle Parsons. The show will run for 76 performances. The trilogy will be revived on Broadway in 2009 and win the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

2000 Two-time Tony winner John Cullum stars in Wendy Wasserstein's latest, Old Money. The play opens tonight at Lincoln Center Theatre's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, under the direction of Mark Brokaw. Even before the first performance, Old Money had sold out tickets for its entire run through Jan. 14, 2001.

2003 Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson star in HBO's TV adaptation of Tony Kushner's Tony- and Pulitzer-winning Angels in America, which draws 4.2 million viewers, making it the year's top cable movie. It will also go on to win 11 Emmy Awards, the most ever for a single broadcast.

2006 Tom Kitt, Amanda Green and David Lindsay-Abaire's musical High Fidelity, based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name, opens on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. Will Chase stars as Rob, a record-store owner who when things in his current relationship go sour revisits his former relationships to find out where he went wrong. Failing to win over critics or audiences, the production closes after 13 performances.

2008 The Olivier Award-winning Slava's Snowshow, already an Off-Broadway hit known for its climactic blizzard and its wordless clowns who roam a wintry landscape, opens at the Helen Hayes Theatre. The show features a cast of ten, including creator Slava Polunin.

2010 King Lear, starring Derek Jacobi in the title role, opens at the Donmar Warehouse in London. Directed by Michael Grandage, the production will cross the Atlantic in April 2011 for a limited run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

More of Today's Birthdays: William S. Hart 1864. Fay Bainter 1892. Eli Wallach 1915. Hurd Hatfield 1917. Ellen Burstyn 1932. A.J. Antoon 1944. Leata Galloway 1950. Jeffrey Wright 1965. Stephanie D'Abruzzo 1971.