Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 22

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 22
Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof.
Zero Mostel in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof.

1921 The Music Box Revue of 1921 is the first production at the new Music Box Theatre, which opens on 45th Street. Included in the production's numbers are Irving Berlin's "Say It With Music"—and Berlin himself is one of the performers. Miriam Hopkins also stars as one of the "Eight Little Notes." The show runs through the season and well into the next. On this date, exactly two years later in 1923, another version opens. This one has Grace Moore's rendition of "What'll I Do?" and a version of "Yes, We Have No Bananas."

1925 Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II team up for the first time for the new musical, Sunny, which opens at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Marilyn Miller stars as the circus performer who stows away on an ocean liner to follow her lover back to America. The remainder of the all-star cast includes Clifton Webb, Jack Donahue, and Cliff Edwards. They all help the show run for over 507 performances. Kern and Hammerstein's next collaboration is the megahit Show Boat.

1964 Fiddler on the Roof opens on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. Zero Mostel stars as milkman Tevye, opposite Bea Arthur as Yente, Maria Karnilova as Golde, and Austin Pendleton as Motel. The Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick score includes such memorable songs as "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" and "Sunrise, Sunset." The production wins nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and runs for 3,242 performances.

1966 Already legends, married couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy arrive at the Martin Beck Theatre to co-star in A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee, which also stars Marian Seldes and Rosemary Murphy. The production goes on to win the Tony Award for Best Play of 1966 along with a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It runs 132 performances.

1989 Irving Berlin, composer and lyricist of such musicals as Annie Get Your Gun, Call Me Madam, and Miss Liberty, dies at age 101. Berlin wrote more than 1,500 songs, including scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 films.

1998 The most controversial and talked-about play of the season, Corpus Christi, begins previews. Terrence McNally's drama, which depicts a gay Christ-like figure, had been withdrawn by Manhattan Theatre Club in May 1998 after threats of violence, then reinstated after an outcry from the theatre community and a promise of special protection from the New York Police Department. There are no incidents, but the show is poorly received by most critics.

2002 Jan de Hartog, the Dutch playwright and novelist whose best-known stage work, The Fourposter, starred Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn on Broadway, dies in Houston, Texas. The play served as the source material for the musical I Do! I Do!

2005 The Tony Awards Administration Committee establishes guidelines for a new category to be added to the annual awards lineup: "Best Performance by an Actor/Actress in a Recreated Role," an award for replacement actors later in a show's run. No award is given in the category at the 2006 awards, and it is abolished a few weeks later.

2007 Marcel Marceau, 84, the Frenchman whose name was synonymous with the art of mime, dies in Cahors, France.

2010 The Divine Sister, the Charles Busch comedy that takes a whack at pop-culture nuns—from the singing to the socially-conscious—opens Off-Broadway at the SoHo Playhouse. Directed by Carl Andress, the play stars Busch, Alison Fraser, Amy Rutberg, Jennifer Van Dyck, Jonathan Walker, and Julie Halston.

2013 Jane Connell, a career character stage actor who, despite her diminutive stature, commanded many a musical comedy stage—most notably through her portrayal of the daffy Agnes Gooch in the original stage production of Jerry Herman's Mame—dies at age 87.

Today's Birthdays: Paul Muni 1895. John Houseman 1902. Shepperd Strudwick 1907. Vincent J. Donehue 1915. Gerald Schoenfeld 1924. Virginia Capers 1925. Brad Oscar 1964. Marc Kudisch 1966. Jenn Colella 1974. Joe Iconis 1981.

Watch Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick talk about writing the songs for Fiddler on the Roof in a clip from the documentary Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles:

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