1916 A new play by a new playwright opens at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York's Greenwich Village, far from Broadway and Times Square, but the play and the author will soon revolutionize the American theatre. The play is Bound East for Cardiff, the first for author Eugene O'Neill, eventually to become the only American playwright to win the Nobel Prize.
1927 The Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical A Connecticut Yankee, based on the Mark Twain time-travel story A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, opens at Broadway's Vanderbilt Theatre for a run of 421 performances, one of the team's longest. William Gaxton stars as the Yankee. The score introduces "Thou Swell" and "On a Desert Island."
1950 Actor Lynn Fontanne, on her way to the theatre in Portland, Maine, where she and her husband Alfred Lunt are appearing in I Know, My Love, falls on the steps of her hotel, breaking her wrist. She goes on anyway.
1953 The Trip to Bountiful, a new play by Horton Foote, opens at Henry Miller's Theatre. Lillian Gish, Jo Van Fleet and Eva Marie Saint are in the cast of the play, which is directed by Vincent J. Donehue. It runs only 39 performances, but is made into an Oscar-winning film starring Geraldine Page in 1985, and receives critically acclaimed revivals Off-Broadway in 2006 starring Lois Smith, and on Broadway in 2013 starring Cicely Tyson.
1960 Tammy Grimes is the title character in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which opens at the Winter Garden Theatre. Meredith Willson contributes music and lyrics to Richard Morris' book in the musical, staged by Dore Schary. Peter Gennaro choreographs. The show gets mixed reviews, but runs 532 performances.
1982 Broadcast media critics are dismissed by the New York Drama Critic's Circle as they vote down a proposal to allow them to be voters for the NYDCC awards. The policy is still in effect.
2002 Carol Channing, John Cullum, Jane Connell, Gordon Connell, and a host of other theatre legends gather at the Players' Club in New York to salute Playbill's Louis Botto on the publication of his Broadway history book, At This Theatre, based on his Playbill column.
2004 A stage adaptation of the film musical White Christmas opens at San Francisco's Curran Theatre with Brian d'Arcy James, Anastasia Barzee, Jeffry Denman, and Meredith Patterson singing and dancing the Irving Berlin classics under the direction of Walter Bobbie. The production arrives on Broadway in 2008, with a cast led by Patterson, Stephen Bogardus, Kerry O'Malley, and Jeffry Denman.
2004 James H. Binger, 88, the chairman and co-founder of Jujamcyn Theatres, which operates Broadway theatres including the Al Hirschfeld and the St. James, dies at his home in Minneapolis.
2005 Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone star in an unusual revival of Sweeney Todd. Under the (soon to be Tony-winning) direction of John Doyle, the 10 cast members also serve as the orchestra. LuPone delights audiences with her capable tuba playing.
2010 Jerry Bock, who composed the indelible score to Fiddler on the Roof, and collaborated with longtime creative partner, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, on many other shows during a prolific 15 years beginning in 1956, dies at age 81. Along with Fiddler, Bock's Broadway musical credits included Mr. Wonderful, Fiorello!, Tenderloin, She Loves Me, The Apple Tree, and The Rothschilds.
2011 Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities—starring Stockard Channing, Stacy Keach, Rachel Griffiths, Judith Light, and Thomas Sadoski—opens on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. The acclaimed drama about a wealthy Republican family dogged by its past previously played a sold-out run Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater under the direction of Joe Mantello, who returns for the Broadway production. Light wins a Tony Award for her performance as acidic alcoholic aunt Silda.
2013 City Center Encores' Cotton Club Parade hits Broadway as After Midnight, a celebration of Duke Ellington's years at the Cotton Club using his original arrangements. The production will feature a series of special guest stars, beginning with Fantasia Barrino and later including Patti LaBelle, Vanessa Williams, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Toni Braxton, and k.d. lang. The production will be nominated seven 2014 Tony Awards, with Adriane Lenox nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and Warren Carlyle winning Best Choreography.
2014 Celia Keenan-Bolger stars as a mother who discovers her son is a reincarnated high Buddhist teacher in the world premiere of Sarah Ruhl's The Oldest Boy, opening Off-Broadway at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.
2016 The New York premiere of Lynn Nottage's Sweat opens Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. The play about factory workers worried about layoffs in their Pennsylvania town transfers to Broadway the following year, and wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
More of Today's Birthdays: Bert Freed (1919-1994). Ken Berry (1933-2018). Terrence McNally (1939-2020). Lois Smith (b. 1930).