1898 Birthday of actress and singer Lotte Lenya, who starred in Berlin musicals by her husband, composer Kurt Weill, and fled with him to France and then the U.S. after the rise of Hitler. She later appeared in the long-running Off-Broadway revival of Weill's The Threepenny Opera in 1955, and in the musical Cabaret in 1966.
1950 Variety reports today that the standout feature in Guys and Dolls, which is having a tryout in Philadelphia, is Abe Burrows' book. Usually a score is most anticipated, but "the Frank Loesser score is likely to come into its rightful prominence when it has been reorchestrated to give greater emphasis to melody," says Variety. The Guys and Dolls book and score will win over the critics when it opens on Broadway on November 24 of this year.
1964 New Yorkers can either head downtown to the Sullivan Street Playhouse to see tonight's production of The Fantasticks, or they can stay home and watch the broadcast on the NBC television network. The Off-Broadway production has the honor of being the only one ever to compete directly with a televised broadcast of itself.
1966 Barbara Harris, Alan Alda and Larry Blyden star in The Apple Tree — three one-act musicals about men, women and temptation, based on stories by Mark Twain, Frank R. Stockton and Jules Feiffer — opening on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre. Written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, and directed by Mike Nichols, it will run for 463 performances. In 2006, the Roundabout Theatre Company will revive The Apple Tree on Broadway with Kristin Chenoweth, Brian d'Arcy James and Marc Kudisch in the lead roles.
1990 Once on This Island opens on Broadway tonight at the Booth Theatre. LaChanze, Jerry Dixon and Kecia Lewis-Evans star in this musical about Caribbean fairy tales and the collision of two cultures as a young, French Antillean woman ( LaChanze) falls in love with an American aristocrat (Dixon). The show, which transferred from Playwrights Horizons, runs 469 performances. 2000 Gwen Verdon, born January 13, 1925, one of the quintessential Broadway musical stars of the 20th century, died in her sleep while visiting her daughter, Nicole Greiner. Verdon won four Tony Awards over her three-decade stage career, for Can-Can in 1954; Damn Yankees in 1956; New Girl in Town in 1958 (in a tie with Thelma Ritter); and 1959 for Redhead. She was also nominated for her portrayals in Sweet Charity and Chicago.