1903 Birthday of actor Claudette Colbert, who appears in numerous Broadway plays in the 1920s, including Dynamo and Tin Pan Alley, before heading off for a successful Hollywood career, followed by several late-life Broadway appearances including The Kingfisher and Aren’t We All?
1920 The Palace Theatre is the host to George Jessel, who stars in a one-hour revue called Troubles of 1920. It showcases Jessel in a Jewish mother-and-son bit.
1978 Ernest Thompson‘s On Golden Pond debuts Off-Broadway at the Hudson Theatre Guild. It transfers to Broadway the following year, and in 1981 becomes a popular film, featuring father and daughter Henry and Jane Fonda.
1983 Yul Brynner plays his 4,000th performance of the title role in The King and I. The production is playing at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, California.
1988 Andrew Lloyd Webber puts his 17-room Manhattan duplex up for sale. His spokesperson says, “Andrew wants something a bit smaller and quieter, a little more low key.”
2000 Collaborative Arts Project 21, Inc., (CAP21), a nonprofit organization in Manhattan, produces the world premiere of The Immigrant, the group’s first venture into full stagings. A musical version of the hit regional play by Mark Harelik, the production has a book by actor-playwright Harelik, music by Steven M. Alper, and lyrics by Sarah Knapp. The intimate, four-character show, which recounts the true story of a Russian Jew who comes to the United States in 1909 by way of Galveston, features Evan Pappas, Jacqueline Antaramian, Walter Charles, and Cass Morgan.
2001 At the urging of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Broadway shows relight tonight, two days after the World Trade Center disaster. Many Off-Broadway theatres relight as well, though most below 14th Street remain closed because they are inaccessible to audiences. Most shows hold memorials of various kinds before and/or after performances, with many casts leading audiences in singing Irving Berlin‘s “God Bless America.” Also today, Stephen Sondheim announces that a planned Broadway production of his Assassins would be withdrawn in the wake of the attacks. Theatre fans hold candlelight vigils in the Times Square area and at the Theatre District’s firehouse at 48th Street, which lost many of its firefighters.
2009 In a dramatic reversal, producers of the Tony-winning Broadway musical Avenue Q take to the stage of the Golden Theatre on what was to have been the show’s closing night to announce that it would take the unusual step of moving Off-Broadway, and reopen at New World Stages. Avenue Q played 2,534 Broadway performances.
2011 The world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn‘s 75th play, Neighbourhood Watch, opens at his longtime artistic home, The Stephen Joseph Theatre Company in Scarborough, England. The production later travels to New York for an Off-Broadway run at 59E59 Theaters.
2014 Will Swenson, Melissa Errico, and John Behlmann take a swing at Bull Durham, the world-premiere musical opening at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Based on the 1988 film about the world of minor league baseball, the musical features a book by original screenwriter Ron Shelton, and music and lyrics by Susan Werner.
More of Today’s Birthdays: Leland Hayward (1902–1971). Mae Questel (1908–1998). Herbert Berghof (1909–1990). Reta Shaw (1912–1982). Cholly Atkins (1913–2003). Roald Dahl (1916–1990). Yma Sumac (1922–2008). Nell Carter (1948–2003). Jean Smart (b. 1951). Christine Estabrook (b. 1952). David Shiner (b. 1953).