Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 14

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 14
Brian d'Arcy James, Daniel Breaker, and Sutton Foster in Shrek the Musical.
Brian d'Arcy James, Daniel Breaker, and Sutton Foster in Shrek the Musical. Joan Marcus

1885 Birthday of Brock Pemberton, producer of many Broadway plays and comedies during a 30-year career, including the original Harvey, Miss Lulu Bett, Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Ladder, and Janie.

1925 Merchants of Glory have made an industry out of the memory of a local dead hero. When that hero turns up suffering from amnesia, they convince him to disappear again. The Theatre Guild performance of Marcel Pagnol and Paul Nivoix's play earns 42 showings.

1932 Birthday of George Furth, author of librettos to musicals Company, The Act, Hot Spot, and Merrily We Roll Along, and of his own plays, including Twigs.

1936 George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart prove You Can't Take It With You at the Booth Theatre. Henry Travers, Josephine Hull, and Mitzi Hajos are among the zany household that keeps laughs rolling for 838 performances.

1945 Betty Field stars as Dream Girl at the Coronet Theatre. Elmer Rice, married to Field, stages his own work which runs for 348 performances.

1950 The gap in social classes always comes down to the Lace on Her Petticoat. The Aimee Stuart play set in turn-of-the-century Scotland runs 190 performances at London's Ambassadors Theatre.

1966 "Rather than subject the drama critics and the theater-going public—who invested $1-million in advance ticket sales—to an excruciatingly boring evening," producer David Merrick closes the musical Breakfast at Tiffany's after just four preview performances. The production starred Richard Chamberlain as Jeff, alongside Mary Tyler Moore in her not quite Broadway debut as Holly Golightly.

1976 George C. Scott plays a con man in Larry Gelbart's Gold Rush-era comedy Sly Fox, based on Ben Jonson's Volpone. The supporting cast includes Jack Gilford, Bob Dishy, Hector Elizondo, and Scott's wife, Trish Van Devere. It stays 495 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

1978 Dorothy Loudon plays a middle-aged woman who finds a second life on the dance floor in Michael Bennett's musical Ballroom, based on Queen of the Stardust Ballroom. It runs 116 performances at the Majestic Theatre.

1980 Much was hoped for from Onward Victoria, a musical about suffragist Victoria Woodhull (Jill Eikenberry). But it closes on opening night at the Martin Beck Theatre.

1982 Karen Allen plays a grown-up Helen Keller in William Gibson's Monday After the Miracle, a sequel to his hit, The Miracle Worker. Jane Alexander plays her teacher in the drama, which shutters after just 7 performances at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.

1989 Jay Allen's Tru, which recounts the life of Truman Capote in his own words, opens at the Booth Theatre. The writer is played Robert Morse, who wins a Tony Award. This production runs 297 performances.

1999 Julie Andrews, the legendary stage and screen star of My Fair Lady, Camelot, The Sound of Music, and Mary Poppins, files a medical malpractice lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. She underwent an allegedly botched throat surgery in 1997 and, as a result, says she is no longer able to sing.

2008 DreamWorks Pictures makes its first foray into Broadway producing as the stage adaptation of its popular animated film Shrek opens at the Broadway Theatre. Shrek the Musical stars Brian d'Arcy James as the green ogre of the title, Sutton Foster as the princess he saves, and Daniel Breaker as his donkey sidekick. Jason Moore directs the show, which has music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire. It runs 441 performances.

2011 Lysistrata Jones, a peppy musical by Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn that transposes the action of the Greek classic Lysistrata from the Peleponnesian Wars to the world of college basketball, opens on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Dan Knechtges directs a cast including Patti Murin, Josh Segarra, Jason Tam, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, and Liz Mikel. Despite an enthusiastic review from the New York Times, the show fails to catch on with audiences and it closes after 30 performances.

More of Today's Birthdays: Jane Cowl 1884. Dan Dailey 1915. Lee Remick 1935. Marilyn Cooper 1936. Patty Duke 1946. John Du Prez 1946. Alice Ripley 1963. Tammy Blanchard 1976.

Watch highlights from the 2011 Broadway musical Lysistrata Jones:

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