Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: May 16 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: May 16 Annie Get Your Gun, starring Ethel Merman, opens on Broadway in 1946.
Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun Vandamm Studio / The New York Public Library

1946 "No you can't get a man with a gun," but when you're Ethel Merman you can sure try. She's the star of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's production of Annie Get Your Gun. (You read that right: R&H were the producers, not the composers.) Irving Berlin supplies the words and music for the book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields. Ray Middleton costars as Frank Butler, the fellow sharpshooter Annie gets in the end. There are 1,147 performances at the Imperial Theatre.

1952 Among the New Faces of 1952—a revue staged by John Murray Anderson—are Eartha Kitt, Ronny Graham, Alice Ghostley, and Carol Lawrence. There are 365 performances at Broadway's Royale Theatre.

1962 At New York City Center, Jean Dalrymple begins a program of musical revivals. Tonight's opening is Can-Can.

1965 Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's musical The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd opens on Broadway, with Newley starring opposite Cyril Ritchard. It runs 231 performances at the Shubert Theatre. The score includes the breakout hit "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)."

1969 Actor, director, and producer Sir Lewis Casson dies at the age of 93. He was the husband of Dame Sybil Thorndike.

1985 Jerry Zaks directs Christopher Durang's The Marriage of Bette and Boo Off-Broadway at The Public Theater's Newman Theater. Joan Allen, Mercedes Ruehl, and Olympia Dukakis star in the dysfunctional matrimony comedy in which Durang himself appears.

1999 Rebecca Gilman's new play, Spinning Into Butter, opens at Chicago's Goodman Studio. After extending three times, the play moves to New York the following year, where it plays Lincoln Center Theater's Off-Broadway venue, the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.

2001 Hours after struggling musical Jane Eyre announces its closing, singer Alanis Morrissette steps forward and writes a check to keep the show open, in hopes that it will win some life-saving awards to buck the Producers tide. Star Marla Schaffel wins the Drama Desk Award as Best Actress in a Musical a few days later, but when the show gets shut out of the Tony Awards, it plays its final performance June 10.

Today's Birthdays: Taylor Holmes 1878. Jay Velie 1892. Osgood Perkins 1892. Henry Fonda 1905. Margaret Sullavan 1911. Studs Terkel 1912. Bruce Norris 1960. Brian F. O'Byrne 1967. Andrew Keenan-Bolger 1985.

Watch Andrew Keenan-Bolger "Letter From the Refuge" from Newsies:

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