Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 18

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 18
Katharine Hepburn (center) in a scene from Coco.
Katharine Hepburn (center) in a scene from Coco. Friedman-Abeles

1907 Playwright Christopher Fry, author of Ring Round the Moon and The Lady's Not for Burning, is born, with the additional surname of Harris, in Bristol, England.

1910 Birthday of Abe Burrows, director and librettist, whose work includes the original books to Guys and Dolls, Silk Stockings, Can-Can, and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

1939 Journalist Heywood Campbell Broun dies at age 51. Broun contributed to New York's Tribune and World newspapers and a collection of his theatre criticism, Seeing Things at Night, was published in 1921.

1956 Uta Hagen plays both a man and a woman in Bertolt Brecht's The Good Woman of Setzuan at New York's Phoenix Theatre. The three week run is directed by Eric Bentley.

1967 Roy Dotrice plays 17th century diarist and biographer John Aubrey in Brief Lives. Patrick Garland penned the script.

1969 Screen god Katharine Hepburn tries her hand at a Broadway musical, starring as designer Coco Chanel in the André Previn musical Coco at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. It runs 329 performances.

1970 The writings of urban teens serves as the source material of the musical The Me Nobody Knows, which opens at the Helen Hayes Theatre and runs for 378 performances. Among the cast are future stars Irene Cara, Hattie Winston, and Northern Calloway.

1985 Jerry's Girls, a musical revue celebrating the music and lyrics of Jerry Herman, opens at the St. James Theatre. The performers include such legendary names as Dorothy Loudon, Chita Rivera, and Leslie Uggams. Herman wrote the scores to some of Broadway's biggest hits including Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles.

2002 Tommy Tune returns to the New York stage with his song and dance revue, Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails, inaugurating Off-Broadway's Little Shubert Theatre on West 42nd Street.

2005 T. Edward Hambleton, the courtly but determined man who ran New York's Phoenix Theater from 1953 to 1983, dies at age 94.

2008 Roundabout Theatre Company revives Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s 1940 musical Pal Joey at Studio 54, with Stockard Channing, Martha Plimpton, and, in the title role, Matthew Risch (who replaced Christian Hoff in previews). The story of a scheming charmer in the world of 1940s Chicago nightclubs, the show has a new book by Richard Greenberg and direction by Joe Mantello.

2011 Vaclav Havel, who went from being an imprisoned dissident playwright in Communist Czechoslovakia to the elected president of the newly free Czech Republic, dies at age 75. His plays include The Memorandum, The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, and A Private View.

More of Today's Birthdays: Gladys Cooper 1888. Betty Grable 1916. Ossie Davis 1917. Danny Simon 1918. Galt MacDermot 1928. Katie Holmes 1978.

Flip through photos of the 2008 Broadway revival of Pal Joey:

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