Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: November 25 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: November 25 Today in 1959, Once Upon a Mattress opens on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre.
Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress

1882 U.S. premiere of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's operetta Iolanthe, about fairies and other supernatural folk who get involved with Parliamentary peers.

1907 Caesar and Cleopatra opens at London's Savoy Theatre. The George Bernard Shaw history play had its premiere at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, in September of the same year. The players in the production include Johnstone Forbes-Robertson, Gertrude Elliott, Philip Tonge, and Elizabeth Watson.

1913 Could George Abbott have realized his appearance in The Misleading Lady would begin a 76 year career in the theatre? Charles W. Goddard and Paul Dickey are the authors of the play about a woman who tricks a man into marriage just for a joke. Lewis Stone is the star directed by Holbrook Blinn.

1929 The Game of Love and Death by Romain Rolland stars Claude Rains, Alice Brady, Otto Kruger, and an unknown Henry Fonda in a walk-on, his Broadway debut. Presented by the Theatre Guild and directed Rouben Mamoulian, the play will run six weeks.

1933 Playwright George S. Kaufman and critic Alexander Woollcott team up for the play The Dark Tower, which runs just 57 performances at the Morosco Theatre. Kaufman uses Woollcott as the subject of his 1939 comedy, The Man Who Came to Dinner.

1952 The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie is set at the Ambassadors' Theatre in London. The cast, trapped in a lonely snow-bound manor, is led by Richard Attenborough and his off-stage wife Sheila Sim. The longest uninterrupted run in the history of world theatre, it has played over 27,000 performances.

1959 A musical written as a resort show proves to be a Broadway hit: Once Upon a Mattress, based on the fairytale of "The Princess and the Pea," transfers to the Alvin Theatre, following a downtown run at the Phoenix. Composer Mary Rodgers, daughter of Richard Rodgers, gets a 460-performance hit and a Tony nomination as Best Musical her first time out. It also marks the Broadway debut of comedian Carol Burnett, who also earns a Tony nomination and a four-decade-plus career.

2001 Dracula, Frank Wildhorn's musical based on the horror classic, concludes a successful tryout at La Jolla Playhouse in California, with producers promising a Broadway opening in fall 2002, but Jim Steinman's bloodsucking tale Dance of the Vampires winds up beating it to the Great White Way. Dracula, the Musical finally arrives on Broadway in 2004.

2002 Queen Elizabeth II attends the 50th anniversary performance of The Mousetrap in London's West End. It's the first time the monarch has seen the thriller, which opened the same year she ascended the throne, and both are still reigning.

2008 Gerald Schoenfeld, the longtime Chairman of the theatre-owning powerhouse known as the Shubert Organization and a man routinely referred to as the most powerful man on Broadway, dies at his home in Manhattan. He was 84 years old.

More of Today's birthdays: Winthrop Ames (1870-1937). Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009). John Larroquette (b. 1947). Kevin Chamberlin (b. 1963). Christina Applegate (b. 1971).

Look Back at Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress

More Today in Theatre History

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