Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 21 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 21 In 2017, Hamilton opens in London.
Jamael Westman and company in Hamilton Matthew Murphy

1889 Beatrice Cameron stars as Nora Helmer in the U.S. premiere of Henrik Ibsen's groundbreaking drama, A Doll's House at Palmer's Theatre.

1909 On the opening night of Clyde Fitch's play The City, the author (or someone closely resembling him) startles the opening night audience by coming on the stage and taking a bow. Why is the audience startled? Because Fitch had died some three months earlier. It goes down as one of the best-documented apparent mass ghost sightings in Broadway history. It isn't the first shock the audience gets that night. The play's themes of drugs, incest, and corruption don't cause the biggest stir; it's the line "You're a goddamn liar!" When the play tried out in New Haven, two women fainted upon hearing it.

1920 Marilyn Miller triumphs in the title role of the musical Sally, setting off a decade of musicals about put-upon maidens. Various parts of the score are written by Jerome Kern, Victor Herbert, B.G. DeSylva, Guy Bolton, and Clifford Grey. Produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, the mixture runs at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

1933 W. Graham-Browne and Marie Tempest are The Old Folks at Home. The H. M. Harwood drama runs at the Queen's Theatre in London.

1934 Ode to Liberty stars Ina Claire helping a Communist who has shot at Hitler. This comedy features Walter Slezak and runs for nine weeks.

1942 Katharine Cornell opens a wartime revival of Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters with herself as Masha, Judith Anderson as Olga, and Ruth Gordon as Natalya. Making his Broadway debut in the tiny role of The Orderly is future Hollywood star Kirk Douglas.

1950 Trying to repeat the success of Kiss Me, Kate, composer Cole Porter reassembles most of the Kate production/creative team for Out of This World, based on the Amphitryon legend.

1961 Art Carney and Elizabeth Ashley star in Phoebe Ephron and Henry Ephron's family comedy Take Her, She's Mine, which runs 404 performances at the Biltmore Theatre.

1966 Neil Simon's slightest comedy of the 1960s, The Star-Spangled Girl opens at the Plymouth Theatre. Richard Benjamin and Tony Perkins play roommates alternately in love with and repelled by their pretty but jingoistic neighbor, played by Connie Stevens.

1974 David Mamet, Patricia Cox, Steven Schachter, and William H. Macy found the St. Nicholas Theatre in Chicago. The christening show is the wold premiere production of Mamet's American Buffalo.

1980 Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley, about a reunion of three sisters, opens Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club. Mary Beth Hurt, Mia Dillon, Julie Nesbitt, and Peter MacNicol are in the cast. The following year, the play wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and transfers to Broadway.

1983 Samuel E. Wright plays a father trying to keep his talented son out of show business in the Henry Krieger musical The Tap Dance Kid. Replacing Alfonso Ribeiro as the title character in mid-run is Savion Glover, making his Broadway debut at age 10.

2008 The Druid Theatre production of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan—about star-struck dreamers on an Irish island—opens Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company's Linda Gross Theater. The staging by Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes proves to be extremely popular, with the limited run extended twice.

2017 Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Hamilton opens in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre. The London company includes Jamael Westman as Alexander Hamilton, Giles Terera as Aaron Burr, Rachelle Ann Go as Eliza Hamilton, and Michael Jibson as King George. The production wins seven Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical.

Today's Birthdays: Frances Goodrich (1890-1984), Harold Lang (1920-1985), Phyllis Love (1925–2011), Jane Fonda (b. 1937), Larry Bryggman (b. 1938), Josh Mostel (b. 1946) Francis Ruivivar (1960-2001), Tom Sturridge (b. 1985), Taylor Louderman (b. 1990)

Go backstage at the West End production of Hamilton:

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