Click through to read the acclaimed artist's choices, and visit those selections in the Playbill Vault.
For opening night of Cinderella, our wonderful Company Manager Brig Berney gave me a Playbill from a show that had played at the Broadway Theatre in 1943: Lady In The Dark — one of my all-time favorites. Having now scoured that old Playbill front to back, I thought it would be fun to search the Vault for other Playbills from the Broadway Theatre. So, with a nod to Brig, here goes!
Gypsy played its very first New York performance at the Broadway Theatre in 1959. All you Ethel Merman fans, when you come to Cinderella, imagine Ethel Merman marching down that house right aisle and shouting out, "Sing out, Louise!"
In 1966 the hit Funny Girl moved into the Broadway Theatre. On page 7 of the Playbill, you can see the bio of dear Jean Stapleton before her rise to TV fame on "All in the Family." Click here for the Funny Girl Playbill featuring Stapleton's bio.
In 1943, Lady in the Dark was revived at the Broadway Theatre. Danny Kaye, by this time, had gone on to star in his own shows, but I got a big kick reading the flowery bio of the delightful star Gertrude Lawrence. At the very bottom of page 16, you will see a clue for what was on the mind of every American during that time.
In April of 1940, Too Many Girls, a musical by George Abbott and Rodgers and Hart moved into the Broadway. It starred Desi Arnaz, who met and married Lucille Ball later in 1940 while shooting the film of Too Many Girls in Hollywood. Look for Desi on the cover of the Playbill playing a guitar! Van Johnson also played a small part in that show.
Speaking of "I Love Lucy," The Cradle Will Rock, Marc Blitzstein's revolutionary musical, played briefly in a revival at the Broadway in 1948 and starred among others, Alfred Drake, and Will Geer and Vivian Vance as Mrs. Mister! To see Vivian Vance's bio, go to page 20. You can see that her first non-musical role was opposite Gertrude Lawrence in Skylark.
|photo by Henry Grossman|
The Broadway is not a stranger to Rodgers and Hammerstein shows. With its large seating capacity and (relatively) large orchestra pit, it can accommodate big shows, like ours: Cinderella! Two other successful Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals re-located to the Broadway during their runs: Oklahoma! and South Pacific. And then, in 1985, The King and I had its second Broadway revival starring Yul Brynner and Mary Beth Peil. Mary Beth remembers her dressing room being on the second floor stage right at the Broadway, though the lay-out backstage has changed considerably! You can see a stunning picture of these two stars from the Playbill.
|Photo by Martha Swope|
Evita opened at the Broadway in 1979 and ran 3 1/2 years. This whole Playbill is fantastic, but I especially love the headshots on page 3. Adorable! Check out headshots and photos from the original Broadway production of Evita by clicking here.
Les Misérables began its epic American journey at the Broadway Theatre on March 12, 1987. I was in the audience that night, and when I saw director John Caird walk through the pass door to go backstage, I so wanted to follow him. I made a promise to myself: I am going to work with him, and I am going to use that pass door when I work at this theater someday! Less than a year later, I was working with John. He cast me as Mme. Thénardier in the first American touring company of Les Miz, and I have walked through that pass door hundreds of times (in both Cinderella and Sister Act!) See? Dreams do come true! Here is the title page from that first Broadway Les Miz Playbill with a wonderful illustration I haven't seen in years with a beautiful quote by Victor Hugo.
Editor's Note: Click here to enjoy Tony winner Victoria Clark's page in the Playbill Vault. Included are photographs from her numerous award-winning Broadway outings, dazzling video performances and more.