Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 26

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 26
 
In 1960, Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker star in the musical Do Re Mi on Broadway.
Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker in Do Re Mi.
Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker in Do Re Mi. Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

1904 Maude Adams returns to Broadway with a revival of J.M. Barrie's The Little Minister. It runs just 73 performances. A year later she returns with a better Barrie play, the original Peter Pan.

1921 Opening night for the original production of Bulldog Drummond, starring A. E. Matthews as the relentless sleuth.

1925 Walter Hampden and Ethel Barrymore are Shylock and Portia in The Merchant of Venice at Hampden's Theatre in New York. The production is part of a limited season for Hampden and Barrymore, which also includes the pair as Hamlet and Ophelia in Hamlet.

1926 With pressure from both New York Governor Alfred E. Smith and Mayor James Walker regarding a reformation by theatre owners of the moral quality of certain productions, a committee is formed to view "morally questionable" shows. Made up of actors, authors, and producers, the committee surveys current shows and comes up with the NY District Attorney's list of such titles. The first three to be raided are Sex, The Virgin Man, and The Captive.

1931 George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind create Wintergreen, the presidential candidate running on a platform of love. Of Thee I Sing, the Pulitzer Prize–winning musical with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin, stars William Gaxton, Grace Brinkley, and Victor Moore. The campaign runs for 441 performances, first at the Music Box Theatre and then at the 46th Street Theatre.

1935 Helen Hayes is Victoria Regina at the Broadhurst Theatre. Laurence Houseman's history of the Queen runs for 515 performances.

1936 Clara Boothe Luce's biting look at the cattier side of the fairer sex is on display in The Women, which opens today on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Margalo Gillmore stars as Mary Haines, whose husband's affair with shop girl Crystal Allen has all of Park Avenue's society women gossiping. The work will be adapted for the big screen in 1939, 1956 (as a musical, The Opposite Sex), and 2008. It was revived on Broadway in 1973 and 2001, and the latter production was filmed for broadcast on PBS.

1940 Adapted by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov from a series of autobiographical short stories by Ruth McKenney, My Sister Eileen centers on two sisters from Ohio who move into a basement apartment in Greenwich Village, opening today at Broadway's Biltmore Theatre. In addition to film adaptations in 1942 and 1955, the work will go on to become the source material behind Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green's Broadway musical Wonderful Town.

1960 Phil Silvers stars as a guy whose latest get-rich-quick scheme involves jukeboxes in the musical Do Re Mi from Jule Styne, Garson Kanin, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green. Nancy Walker plays Silvers' long-suffering wife, who stops the show with the song "Adventure." It runs 400 performances and introduces the standard "Make Someone Happy."

1962 Writer S. J. Perelman and comedian Bert Lahr may sound like a unbeatable combination, but their collaboration The Beauty Part runs just 85 performances at the Music Box.

1999 Broadway's long-running The Phantom of the Opera celebrates an impressive 5,000 performances.

2016 Actor George S. Irving, a Tony winner in 1973 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical in Irene opposite Debbie Reynolds, dies at age 94. With 32 Broadway credits, Irving performed in such classics as Oklahoma!, Gentleman Prefer Blondes, Can-Can, Bells Are Ringing, the 1981 revival of The Pirates of Penzance, and Me and My Girl, for which he earned a Tony nomination.

Today's Birthdays: Dion Boucicault (1820-1890). Richard Widmark (1914-2008). Donald Moffat (1930-2018). Mabel King (1932-1999). Bob Avian (b. 1937).

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