Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 10

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 10
Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff in <i>Spring Awakening</i>.
Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff in Spring Awakening. Joan Marcus

1901 Sadie Martinot, Guy Bates Post, and Junius Brutus Booth play The Marriage Game. The drama, adapted by Clyde Fitch from Emile Augier's Le Marriage d'Olympe, highlights what ruination can come to a young man when he marries a courtesan.

1925 Actor Walter Huston searches for The Fountain at the Greenwich Village Theatre. The Eugene O'Neill drama directed by Robert Edmond Jones deals with Ponce de Leon's search for the Fountain of Youth. It runs for 28 performances.

1926 What will happen when The Trumpet Shall Sound? Thornton Wilder has one answer in his play about a man who finds out his servants have turned his home over to the needy. Directed by Richard Boleslavsky, the show runs in American Laboratory Theatre's repertory season for 30 performances.

1953 When a man hears the devastating news his father has been hanged for murder, it's A Question of Fact at London's Piccadilly Theatre. Paul Scofield, Gladys Cooper, and Pamela Brown are in the cast. Frith Banbury directs the 30-week run.

1965 Producer Lore Noto makes his Broadway debut with The Yearling, a musical adaptation of the film of the same title, as a follow-up to his phenomenal Off-Broadway success The Fantasticks. The Yearling closes at the Alvin Theatre the following day, after only 3 performances, and Noto never produces again. The musical stars David Wayne and Carmen Alvarez, and is directed by Lloyd Richards, later dean of the Yale School of Drama.

1974 Theatre titans Rex Harrison and Julie Harris star in Terrence Rattigan's In Praise of Love. It runs 200 performances at the Morosco Theatre.

1991 The first production of Tony Randall's National Actors Theatre opens at the Belasco Theatre. It's a revival of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, in a limited-run of 31 performances starring Martin Sheen, Martha Scott, and Michael York.

1992 The songwriting team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty returns to Broadway with My Favorite Year, a musical adaptation of the film of the same title, starring Tim Curry, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, and Evan Pappas, with choreography by Thommie Walsh. It completes its 36-performance subscription run at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, but does not transfer to a commercial run. Ahrens & Flaherty go on to write Ragtime and Seussical.

2000 Opening night of Jane Eyre, the musical based on the Charlotte Brontë novel. Critics say it may have opened too late in the cycle of operatic musicals, but producers keep it running, mainly at a loss, for 209 performances through the 2001 Tony Awards. Leading lady Marla Schaffel earns a Tony nomination and a cult following, but no Tony Awards.

2000 A Class Act brings an end to its sold-out Off-Broadway run at the Manhattan Theatre Club. The musical about A Chorus Line lyricist, Edward Kleban, featuring his own songs, is successful enough to warrant a transfer to Broadway's Ambassador Theatre for a March 11, 2001 opening.

2006 Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's musical Spring Awakening, based on the 1891 troubled teen drama by Frank Wedekind, opens on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff star as teens Wendla and Melchior, who are drawn to each other in a world where parents, ministers, and teachers create an atmosphere of shame, silence, and ignorance. The production wins eight Tony Awards, including ones for John Gallagher, Jr.'s performance as Moritz, Best Original Score, and Best Musical. It runs for 859 performances.

2014 The world premiere of An American in Paris, the stage musical inspired by the Oscar-winning film of the same name, opens at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, it stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope. The production transfers to Broadway the following year.

2015 A revival of the musical The Color Purple, starring Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo, opens at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, marking the Broadway debuts of both actors. The production wins two 2016 Tony Awards—for Erivo's performance as Celie, and for Best Musical.

2018 Alvin Epstein, an actor and director whose stage career frequently explored the work of playwright Samuel Beckett, dies at the age of 93. A founding member of the Yale Repertory Theater and former Artistic Director at the Guthrie Theater, his Broadway roles included Lucky in the original production of Waiting for Godot, the Fool opposite Orson Welles in King Lear, and Luc Delbert in the Richard Rodgers musical No Strings.

More of Today's Birthdays: Lew Brown 1893. Vivienne Osborne 1896. Una Merkel 1903. Hermes Pan 1909. Harold Gould 1923. Mako 1933. Kenneth Branagh 1960.

Watch highlights from the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple:

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