Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: November 23

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: November 23
James Naughton, Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, and Joel Grey at the curtain call for Chicago's milestone performance in 2014.
James Naughton, Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, and Joel Grey at the curtain call for Chicago's milestone performance in 2014. Joseph Marzullo/WENN

1920 In Rollo's Wild Oat, the title character rents a theatre and hires actors so he can star in Hamlet. Roland Young has the lead in the Clare Kummer play.

1937 John Steinbeck's adaptation of his novel Of Mice and Men opens at the Music Box Theatre. Director George S. Kaufman optioned the dramatic rights earlier the same year at the suggestion of his wife, less than two weeks after the book's original publication. The production stars Wallace Ford and Broderick Crawford as traveling companions Lenny and George. It runs 207 performances.

1938 Eddie Albert, Ronald Graham, Teddy Hart, Jimmy Savo, and Burl Ives are The Boys From Syracuse. George Abbott adapted the story from William Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors. Music and lyrics are supplied by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and George Balanchine provides the choreography.

1944 The Man Who Had All the Luck certainly isn't lead actor Karl Swenson or anyone else involved in the drama by Arthur Miller. The show, about a man who realizes his luck is a result of careful planning and hard work, plays only four times.

1993 In order to get a review from Frank Rich of the New York Times before he leaves, Tony Kushner's Angels in America: Perestroika opens at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Rich, who is known for raving about the first part of the play, is leaving his post soon, to be succeeded by a reviewer known for not being enthusiastic about the piece. When the review comes out, the play is defined as a "true millennial work of art." Perestroika runs in repertory with Millennium Approaches and runs for 216 performances.

2003 Donna Murphy and Jennifer Westfeldt star in the 50th anniversary (and first Broadway) revival of Wonderful Town. Kathleen Marshall directs the production, which originated as part of the City Center's Encores! series.

2005 A film adaptation of the musical Rent opens, featuring most of the original Broadway cast.

2005 Constance Cummings, the Seattle-born actor who made a name for herself on stage and screen in the U.S. and England, and won a 1979 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for portraying a stroke victim whose world—and speech—is broken in Wings, dies at age 95 in Oxfordshire, England.

2006 Betty Comden, 89, the award-winning lyricist and librettist who—with writing partner Adolph Green—created such iconic musicals as Bells Are Ringing, Wonderful Town, The Will Rogers Follies, On the Twentieth Century, and On the Town dies in New York. They also wrote the script to the film Singin' in the Rain.

2008 Opening night for the Broadway stage adaptation of Irving Berlin’s holiday film White Christmas, about a pair of army buddies who try to help their former commanding officer who has fallen on hard times. Stephen Bogardus, Jeffry Denman, Kerry O'Malley, and Meredith Patterson star in the production, staged by Walter Bobbie. The score includes songs from the Bing Crosby film, augmented with other tunes from the Irving Berlin songbook.

2009 Fela!, a biographical musical celebration of Nigerian musical pioneer and political activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, opens on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Sahr Ngaujah, who headlined the show's 2008 Off-Broadway premiere, alternates in the title role with Kevin Mambo.

2014 The long-running, Tony-winning revival of Chicago plays its 7,486th performance, surpassing Cats to become the second longest-running show in Broadway history. Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, James Naughton, and Joel Grey—who originated the roles of Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly, Billy Flynn, and Amos Hart in the production—each make cameo appearances at various points in the milestone performance.

More of Today's Birthdays: Guy Bolton 1884. Boris Karloff 1887. Erté (nee Remain de Tirtoff) 1892. Peter Gennaro 1919. Jerry Bock 1928. Bruce Vilanch 1948. Maxwell Caulfield 1959.

Watch higlights from Fela!:

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