Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 22

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 22
 
The original production of Fiddler on the Roof opens on Broadway on this date in 1964.
Zero Mostel and cast
Zero Mostel and cast Friedman-Abeles/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

1921 The Music Box Revue of 1921 is the first production at the new Music Box Theatre, which opens on 45th Street. Included in the production's numbers are Irving Berlin's "Say It With Music"—and Berlin himself is one of the performers. Miriam Hopkins also stars as one of the "Eight Little Notes." The show runs through the season and well into the next. On this date, exactly two years later in 1923, another version opens. This one has Grace Moore's rendition of "What'll I Do?" and a version of "Yes, We Have No Bananas."

1925 Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II team up for the first time for the new musical Sunny, which opens at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Marilyn Miller stars as the circus performer who stows away on an ocean liner to follow her lover back to America. The remainder of the all-star cast includes Clifton Webb, Jack Donahue, and Cliff Edwards. They all help the show run for over 507 performances. Kern and Hammerstein's next collaboration is the megahit Show Boat.

1964 Fiddler on the Roof opens on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. Zero Mostel stars as milkman Tevye, opposite Bea Arthur as Yente, Maria Karnilova as Golde, and Austin Pendleton as Motel. The Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick score includes such memorable songs as "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" and "Sunrise, Sunset." The production wins nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and runs for 3,242 performances.

1966 Already legends, married couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy arrive at the Martin Beck Theatre to co-star in A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee, which also stars Marian Seldes and Rosemary Murphy. The production goes on to win the Tony Award for Best Play of 1966 along with a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It runs 132 performances.

1998 The most controversial and talked-about play of the season, Corpus Christi, begins previews. Terrence McNally's drama, which depicts a gay Christ-like figure, had been withdrawn by Manhattan Theatre Club in May 1998 after threats of violence, then reinstated after an outcry from the theatre community and a promise of special protection from the New York Police Department. There are no incidents, but the show is poorly received by most critics.

2005 The Tony Awards Administration Committee establishes guidelines for a new category to be added to the annual awards lineup: "Best Performance by an Actor/Actress in a Recreated Role," an award for replacement actors later in a show's run. No award is given in the category at the 2006 awards, and it is abolished a few weeks later.

2010 The Divine Sister, the Charles Busch comedy that takes a whack at pop-culture nuns—from the singing to the socially-conscious—opens Off-Broadway at the SoHo Playhouse. Directed by Carl Andress, the play stars Busch, Alison Fraser, Amy Rutberg, Jennifer Van Dyck, Jonathan Walker, and Julie Halston.

2019 The Flea Theater celebrates the world-premiere opening of Mac Wellman's The Invention of Tragedy. The play, directed by Meghan Finn, is part of The Flea's festival of Wellman works celebrating the three-time Obie Award-winning playwright and poet (as well as one of The Flea's co-founders).

Today's Birthdays: Paul Muni (1895-1967); John Houseman (1902-1988); Shepperd Strudwick (1907-1983); Vincent J. Donehue (1915-1966); Gerald Schoenfeld (1924-2008); Virginia Capers (1925-2004); Brad Oscar (b. 1964); Marc Kudisch (b. 1966); Jenn Colella (b. 1974); Joe Iconis (b. 1981).

Watch Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick talk about writing the songs for Fiddler on the Roof in a clip from the documentary Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles:

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