1921 Following his success in Sigmund Romberg's Sinbad, Al Jolson returns to Broadway with another Romberg hit, Bombo, but the show's biggest song hits are contributed by other composers, including "Toot Toot Tootsie," "April Showers," and "My Mammy."
1948 The original Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke opens with Margaret Phillips as Alma Winemiller. It runs a disappointing 102 performances and is considered minor Williams—until a downtown production in the 1950s establishes the play's reputation, and that of its new star, Geraldine Page, as well as helping to ignite the Off-Broadway movement.
1969 A New York Drama Desk symposium is held with Edward Albee defending the intentionally altered production of his play Tiny Alice at the ANTA Theatre. The original production, directed by Alan Schneider in 1964, starring Irene Worth and John Gielgud, had taken certain creative liberties the playwright did not agree with. Director William Ball is in the audience when Albee's remark about changing the playwright's intentions in a production is made. "A fine line," Albee says, "exists between creative interpretation and usurpation."
1974 Bernadette Peters and Robert Preston give "two of the finest performances of the season," according to the Post, in the David Merrick produced musical about the silent film era, Mack & Mabel. Jerry Herman wrote songs and lyrics, Gower Champion staged, Michael Stewart wrote the book, and stars Peters and Preston receive rave reviews. Despite all that, the production runs only 66 performances at the Majestic Theatre.
1977 The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn opens at the John Golden Theatre. The play, directed by Mike Nichols, is about a frustrated couple—Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy—in a nursing home who find themselves playing a not-too-friendly game of cards. Tandy wins a Tony Award for her performance, and the play wins the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. After leaving the Broadway production, Cronyn and Tandy reprise their performances in a national tour and in London. The play has since been revived on Broadway twice, in 1997 with Charles Durning and Julie Harris, and in 2015 with James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson.
1998 Margaret Edson's drama Wit opens its Off-Broadway run at the Manhattan Class Company. The play, which focuses on a woman's struggle with fourth-stage ovarian cancer, wins the year's Pulitzer Prize Award for Drama. Derek Anson Jones directs star Kathleen Chalfant in the show that runs at the theatre through December 13, before moving to the Union Square Theatre on January 7, 1999. The production runs a total of 75 performances at MCC and 545 performances at the Union Square. The play makes its Broadway debut in 2012, in a production starring Cynthia Nixon.
2010 F. Scott Fitzgerald's American classic The Great Gatsby is brought to life as Elevator Repair Service's Gatz opens at the Public Theater. The office-set theatrical marathon presents the entire novel—word-for-word—over the course of six-and-a-half hours.
2013 Andrew Lippa and John August's musical Big Fish, a father-and-son tale based on the 1998 novel by Daniel Wallace and the subsequent 2003 film by August, opens at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre. Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, it stars Norbert Leo Butz, Bobby Steggert, and Kate Baldwin. Reviews are mixed, and it closes after 98 performances.
2016 Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical opens on Broadway at Studio 54. Bryce Pinkham, Lora Lee Gayer, Megan Lawrence, Megan Sikora, and Corbin Bleu star in the musical inspired by the classic 1942 film. The show features over 20 classic Irving Berlin songs, including "Steppin' Out With My Baby," "Shaking the Blues Away," "Easter Parade," "Cheek to Cheek," and "Heatwave."
2019 Jeremy O. Harris' Slave Play, directed by Robert O'Hara, opens at The Golden Theatre. The new drama (seen Off-Broadway the previous season) follows three couples as they navigate the complexities of race, history, gender, and sexuality in 21st-century America. The cast includes Joaquina Kalukango, Ato Blankson-Wood, James Cusati-Moyer, Sullivan Jones, Chalia La Tour, Irene Sofia Lucio, Annie McNamara, and Paul Alexander Nolan.
More of Today's Birthdays: Janet Gaynor (1906-1984). Anna Quayle (1936-2019). Richard Maltby, Jr. (b. 1937). Casey Nicholaw (b. 1962). Elisabeth Shue (b. 1963); Michael Arden (b. 1982). Ali Ewoldt (b. 1982). Noah Robbins (b. 1990).