Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: November 20 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: November 20 In 1966, Cabaret premieres on Broadway.
Joel Grey in the original Broadway production of Cabaret Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

1922 The Lucky One is the brother who doesn't get the girl in the A. A. Milne play. It's staged at the Theatre Guild by Theodore Komisarjevsky with a cast including Dennis King, Romney Brent, and Helen Westley.

1934 Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour opens at Maxine Elliot's Theatre. Its lesbian theme causes a stir, but Brooks Atkinson calls the play "venomously tragic." The stars are Anne Revere, Katherine Emery, and Florence McGee in the show that runs for 691 performances.

1943 An interesting wartime artifact, Winged Victory, opens a 212-performance run at the 44th Street Theatre. Moss Hart writes the script and Sgt. David Rose writes the music for the military-themed play with music, the only Broadway show ever produced by The U.S. Army Air Forces.

1946 Lillian Hellman has another show on Broadway on this day in theatre history. This time, she directs her play, Another Part of the Forest, which opens at the Fulton Theatre. It revisits some of the characters from The Little Foxes earlier in their lives. The cast includes Patricia Neal, Mildred Dunnock, and Leo Genn in the 23-week run.

1952 George Axelrod's comedy The Seven Year Itch, about a married man longing to stray with a beautiful neighbor, opens at the Fulton Theatre. The cast includes Tom Ewell and Vanessa Brown in the role that Marilyn Monroe immortalizes in the 1955 movie (which also stars Ewell). The Broadway production runs for an incredible 1,141 performances and wins Ewell a Tony Award for Best Dramatic Actor.

1957 The Rope Dancers, directed by Peter Hall, with a cast including Siobhán McKenna, Art Carney, Joan Blondell, and Theodore Bikel, begins a 24-week run. The drama by Morton Wishengrad deals with the lives of a New York tenement family at the turn of the century.

1966 "Life is beautiful" inside the Broadhurst Theatre as Cabaret opens on Broadway. Adapted by Joe Masteroff from Christopher Isherwood's The Berlin Stories, with a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the show runs for 1,165 performances. It wins eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Harold Prince), and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Joel Grey). Grey repeats his performance as Master of Ceremonies in Bob Fosse's 1972 film adaptation, winning him an Academy Award.

1983 Opening night for Marilyn: An American Fable, a rock opera about the life of movie star Marilyn Monroe. Despite a team of ten songwriters working on the score, the show manages just 17 performances at the Minskoff Theatre. Alyson Reed plays Norma Jean/Marilyn.

1989 Final Broadway opening for two titans, Rex Harrison and Glynis Johns, in a revival of W. Somerset Maugham's The Circle. It runs 208 performances at the Ambassador Theatre.

1990 James Clavell's best-selling novel Shogun becomes an unsuccessful musical, debuting at the Marquis Theatre. Paul Chihara and John Driver's Shogun, the Musical, with elaborate costumes and sets, stars Philip Casnoff. "Pillowing" is the only song in a Broadway musical this season in praise of sexual toys: "It never tires of women like a lazy, jaded man."

2002 Without an understudy and up a creek due to the illness of the lead actor (Misty Cotton) in its staging of The Spitfire Grill, the Laguna Playhouse in California puts out an all-points bulletin to find a replacement to star in its three-week-old production. New York composer James Valcq gets a frantic request from California: Are any Percys from recent regional productions willing and able to jump into the production? Valcq has the answer: New York actor Kathryn Blake, who was nominated for a 2002 Carbonell Award for her performance in the Florida Stage production. She jets to California and jumps back into the role for the rest of the run.

2008 The Lincoln Center Theater production of Horton Foote’s Dividing the Estate, starring Elizabeth Ashley, Hallie Foote, Penny Fuller, and Gerald McRaney, opens on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. Michael Wilson directs the comedy-drama about the battling Gordon clan of Harrison, Texas, who must decide whether to sell the family mansion to developers.

2011 Seminar, Theresa Rebeck's play about the creative and personal tensions of four young novelists who are taking a private writing class with a potentially damaging teacher, opens on Broadway at the Golden Theatre. The production stars Alan Rickman as the acid-tongued teacher, with Lily Rabe, Jerry O'Connell, Hamish Linklater, and Hettienne Park as his students.

2014 A revival of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning family drama A Delicate Balance opens on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre. The cast includes Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Lindsay Duncan, Bob Balaban, Clare Higgins, and Martha Plimpton.

2016 Sutton Foster stars in an intimate Off-Broadway staging of Sweet Charity, opening at the Pershing Square Signature Center. The New Group revival of Neil Simon, Cy Coleman, and Dorothy Fields' musical is directed by Leigh Silverman and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse.

More of Today's Birthdays: George Jenkins (1908-2007). Judy Canova (1913-1983). Lee Guber (1920-1988). Kaye Ballard (1925-2019). Estelle Parsons (b. 1927). Samuel E. Wright (1946-2021). Jan Maxwell (1956-2018). Jeremy Jordan (b. 1984).

PHOTO SPECIAL: The Toast of Mayfair! A Look Back at the Many Perfectly Marvelous Ladies to Play Cabaret's Sally Bowles

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