Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 15 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 15 Birthday of Tony-winning The Lion King director Julie Taymor.
Julie Taymor Frank Veronsky

1919 Frank McGlyn is Abraham Lincoln in John Drinkwater's drama. The story follows Lincoln's life from 1860 to his assassination in 1865. There are 193 performances at the Cort Theatre in New York.

1925 The Dybbuk runs at the Neighborhood Playhouse. David Vardi and Alice Lewisohn stage the S. Ansky tale of a wronged spirit possessing the body of his beloved. The directing team based this version on the Israeli Habimah Troupe's production. A more recent adaptation of the play, by Angels In America's Tony Kushner, overlays the story with intimations of the Holocaust and its devastation of European Jewry.

1948 The September Tide drifts in at London's Aldwych Theatre. Gertrude Lawrence stars in the Daphne Du Maurier play, with a cast that includes Bryan Forbes and Michael Gough. Irene Hentschel directs.

1952 Bette Davis stars in Two's Company, Charles Sherman's musical revue with music by Vernon Duke, lyrics by Ogden Nash, choreography by Jerome Robbins, and a cast that also includes David Burns and Nora Kaye. It runs 90 performances at the Alvin Theatre.

1962 Actor Charles Laughton dies at the age of 63 in Hollywood. He made his stage debut in 1926 in The Government Inspector. He appeared in plays such as Macbeth, Measure for Measure, and the English version of Galileo, on which he worked closely with Bertolt Brecht. Laughton also appeared in various films throughout his career and directed the seminal thriller, The Night of the Hunter. He was married to Elsa Lanchester.

1964 Buddy Hackett and Coney Island may have sounded like a can't-miss combination, but the musical I Had a Ball runs just 199 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre, on the appeal of the star and the Jack Lawrence/Stan Freeman score.

1966 The Oscar Brand-Paul Nassau rock musical A Joyful Noise opens at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, where it runs only 12 performances through Christmas Eve. However, it provides Broadway with a great Christmas present: it is the first musical choreographed solely by Michael Bennett, who goes on to do Company, Follies, A Chorus Line, and other great musicals.

1977 One of the high water marks of the Circle in the Square troupe at its uptown theatre, a revival of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, stars Lynn Redgrave, Philip Bosco, Tom Aldredge, Robert LuPone, Paul Shyre, and Joseph Bova. It plays a limited run of 77 performances.

1983 Betty Comden makes her dramatic debut in Wendy Wasserstein's revised Isn't It Romantic, which opens Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. The stars also include Christine Rose and Lisa Banes in the show about big city romance and career opportunity. The production transfers to the Lucille Lortel Theatre the following year, for a 733-performance run.

1991 Nick & Nora, a new musical with a book by Arthur Laurents (Gypsy) and a score by Charles Strouse (Bye Bye Birdie) and Richard Maltby, Jr. (Miss Saigon), plays its last performance. It had opened only one week before on December 8. The musical stars such major theatrical talents as Joanna Gleason, Christine Baranski, Barry Bostwick, Debra Monk, and Faith Prince.

2004 Disney and Cameron Mackintosh join forces to present a stage adaptation of the film classic Mary Poppins, which opens at London's Prince Edward Theatre. Laura Michelle Kelly stars as the magical nanny. Two years later, a Broadway production of the musical opens at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre.

2014 The world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter's Pocatello opens Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. T.R. Knight stars as the manager of an Italian chain restaurant in a town that is slowly being paved over with strip malls and franchises.

Today's Birthdays: Leonard Willey (1882-1964). Maxwell Anderson (1888-1959). Kermit Bloomgarden (1904-1976). Heath Lamberts (1941-2005). Julie Taymor (b. 1952).

Flip through photos of the 1991 Broadway production of Nick & Nora:

Look Back at Photos from the Original Nick & Nora

More Today in Theatre History

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