1931 "It's Today"—that Jerry Herman is born. Herman becomes one of Broadway's great musical theatre composers. Among his esteemed credits are the hits Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage Aux Folles. He lives to age 88 and passes December 26, 2019.
1974 Bloomsbury brings back the flavor of that literary era in Peter Luke's new drama. Richard Cottrell directs Yvonne Mitchell as Virginia Woolf and Daniel Massey as Lytton Strachey. Opening at London's Phoenix Theatre, Bloomsbury runs 53 performances.
1994 Roundabout Theatre Company presents Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the Criterion Center. Kelly McGillis stars as the title character in a cast that also features Patricia Conolly, Bette Henritze, and Laura Linney. The production, directed by Sarah Pia Anderson, plays 33 performances.
2007 Xanadu, the musical based on the 1980 film of the same name, opens on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre. Kerry Butler stars as Kira opposite Cheyenne Jackson as Sonny, in a cast that also includes Tony Roberts, Jackie Hoffman, and Mary Testa. The production originally starred James Carpinello as Sonny, but he was replaced by Jackson after injuring his foot during previews. Xanadu runs more than a year on Broadway, for a total of 512 performances.
2008 Following its acclaimed production of Gypsy, which transferred to Broadway, City Center's Encores! Summer Stars series returns for a second season with Damn Yankees. The baseball-themed musical stars Jane Krakowski as Lola, Sean Hayes as Mr. Applegate, and Cheyenne Jackson as Joe Hardy.
2013 Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock inaugurates New York City Center's new Encores! Off-Center series—a concert-production series celebrating Off-Broadway musicals. Directed by Sam Gold, the cast includes Raúl Esparza, Danny Burstein, Judy Kuhn, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, and Anika Noni Rose.
2017 Dominique Morisseau’s Pipeline opens Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater. The premiere solidifies Morisseau as a theatrical force to be reckoned with. The play follows Omari, a black student at a predominantly white prep school, and his single mother who teaches at the district public school. When Omari attacks his teacher, Nya’s fears for her son's future push her to the edge and force audiences to question who is truly at fault. The production, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, starred Namir Smallwood and Karen Pittman with Tasha Lawrence, Morroco Omari, Jamie Lincoln Smith, and Heather Velazquez. Morisseau earned a 2018 Obie for Playwriting, tied to the work. Pipeline earned five Lucille Lortel Award nominations, including one for Oustanding Play. Audiences can still view the LCT production via BroadwayHD.
2018 Moulin Rouge! begins performances for its out-of-town tryout in Boston. The production marks the re-opening of the newly refurbished Emerson Colonial Theatre. Directed by Alex Timbers with a book by John Logan, Moulin Rouge! would mark the Broadway debut of choreographic powerhouse Sonya Tayeh (who would go on to win the 2020 Drama Desk). The musical also would bring Tony winner Karen Olivo back to Broadway after a years-long hiatus. Co-star Danny Burstein would go on to be honored with the Drama League Distinguished Performance Award for his role as Harry Zidler.
2019 Jacqueline Novak’s solo comedy Get On Your Knees begins Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Directed by John Early, the show was such a massive success it transferred to the Lucille Lortel Theatre and played an extended run into the fall. By popular demand, Novak returned for another run in December. The COVID-19 shutdown canceled her tour of the show, but she was nominated for a 2020 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance.
More of Today's Birthdays: Noble Sissle (1889–1975). Jimmy McHugh (1894–1969). Mitchell Parish (1900–1993). Jean Kerr (1922–2003). Fred Gwynne (1926–1993). Fiona Shaw (b. 1958). Erika Jayne (b. 1971). Chiwetel Ejiofor (b. 1977).