Today in Theatre History: DECEMBER 2
By David Gewirtzman
1912 The Firefly sparks the Lyric Theatre with music by Rudolf Friml and lyrics and book by Otto Harbach. This tale of an Italian street singer who disguises herself as a boy to be near the wealthy man she loves stars Emma Trentini, Craig Campbell, and Audrey Maple.
1919 Impersonation, yet again. This time Laurette Taylor's character in One Night in Rome impersonates a fortune-teller, L'Enigme, who forces a young man to discover he is in love with her. J. Hartley Manners created this role specifically for Taylor, his wife.
1924 The Student Prince opens at the Jolson Theatre in New York. The show, based on the play Old Heidelberg, has a book and lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly with a score by Sigmund Romberg. Tunes include the "Drinking Song." In the story, a prince falls in love with a waitress. It stars Howard Marsh and Ilse Marvenga.
1925 Actress Julie Harris is born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She earns fame and respect later in The Member of the Wedding and The Belle of Amherst, among other plays.
1979 Martin Sherman’s play about homosexuals in the Nazi concentration camps, Bent, opens at the New Apollo Theatre. Richard Gere stars as a gay man who is also a Jew. Other cast members include David Marshall Grant and David Dukes. The show will run for 241 performances.
1985 The Mystery of Edwin Drood, adapted from the Charles Dickens novel by Rupert Holmes, opens on Broadway tonight at the Imperial Theatre. The show ran for free in Central Park over the previous summer. Dickens never wrote an ending to his novel, and because of this, the responsibility of choosing an ending falls to the audience each night. The cast includes Betty Buckley, George Rose, Donna Murphy and George N. Martin.
1999 Audra McDonald received her fourth Tony Award nomination — and first for Leading Actress in a Musical — for the Lincoln Center Theater production of Marie Christine, which opens today. The musical was written especially for McDonald by Michael John LaChiusa. An ambitious musical adaptation of the Greek tragedy, Medea, Marie Christine ran on Broadway for just 42 performances and received five Tony Award nominations.
2004 Amon Miyamoto becomes the first Japanese director to stage a major musical on Broadway with the opening of Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Pacific Overtures at Studio 54, starring B.D. Wong and two members of the original 1976 production, Sab Shimono and Alvin Y. F. Ing.
2011 The New York premiere of David Adjmi's funny and savage portrait of civilized life, Elective Affinities, opens Off-Broadway. Starring Zoe Caldwell as witty octogenarian Alice Hauptmann, the site-specific production is performed in a townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side where an audience of 30 is served tea and sandwiches before being invited to join Caldwell in an intimate sitting room for the play.
2012 Patti LuPone and Debra Winger debate faith, politics, persecution and redemption in the world premiere of David Mamet's two-woman drama The Anarchist, opening at the John Golden Theatre. Critics do not warm to the 70-minute work that casts LuPone as an inmate serving a life sentence and Winger as the woman who must determine whether she is fit for parole, and it closes after 17 performances.
More of Today's Birthdays: Adolph Green 1914. Ray Walston 1914. Ezra Stone 1917. Jonathan Frid 1924. Ron Raines 1949. Wilson Jermaine Heredia 1971.
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