PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: NOVEMBER 3

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Sam Maher and Steve Luber
03 Nov 2013

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 Actress 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 tonight at Henry Miller's Theatre. Lillian Gish, Jo Van Fleet and Eva Marie Saint are in the cast of this play, which is directed by Vincent J. Donehue. The show will run only 39 performances but will be made into an Oscar-winning film starring Geraldine Page in 1985 and receive 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 tonight at the Winter Garden Theatre. Meredith Willson contributes music and lyrics to Richard Morris' book in this musical, staged by Dore Schary. Peter Gennaro choreographs. The show gets mixed reviews, but runs 532 performances.

1982 Broadcast media critics are dismissed today 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 Theatre," based on his Playbill column.

2004 A stage adaptation of the film musical White Christmas opens at San Francisco's Curran Theatre Nov. 3 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.

2004 Also today, 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 direction of John Doyle the ten cast members also serve as the orchestra, doubling on musical instruments when they are not performing in a scene. LuPone delights audiences with her capable tuba playing.

2006 To accommodate increasing pedestrian crowds in Times Square, lanes of traffic along Broadway and Seventh Avenue are narrowed so sidewalks can be widened.

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.

More of Today's Birthdays: Bert Freed 1919. Lois Smith 1930. Ken Berry 1933.