1900 Opening night of legendary musical Floradora at the Casino Theatre for a 553-performance run—the first major hit of the 20th century. The production is remembered principally for the Florodora Sextet in the song "Tell Me, Pretty Maiden." The chorus line of beautiful women became a staple of Broadway musicals.
1925 Birthday of Richard Burton, who starred in Hamlet, The Lady's Not for Burning, and Private Lives on Broadway, but perhaps most memorably as King Arthur in the musical Camelot, and in the film version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf opposite his then-wife Elizabeth Taylor.
1964 Critics want a whole lot more from Something More!, a musical that runs only 15 performances at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. What they get is a well-received Barbara Cook but an otherwise apparently undistinguished show by composer Sammy Fain, lyricists Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, and librettist Nate Monaster. Jule Styne directed.
1965 Long before Driving Miss Daisy came the Broadway play-with-music, The Zulu and the Zayda, whose plot—according to Best Plays annual—may be summed up as, "the family of a frisky Jewish granddad hires a Zulu as a companion for him." The show, starring Menasha Skulnik, Ossie Davis, and Louis Gossett, Jr., was supposed to open November 9, but the East Coast black-out postponed the opening by 24 hours. Gentle reviews and Skulnik's lasting appeal from his Yiddish theatre days, carry the show to 179 performances.
1970 Danny Kaye as Noah? It worked for Richard Rodgers and Martin Charnin, whose musical retelling of Noah's Ark, Two by Two, begins a ten-month run. The production is remembered for Kaye's increasingly wild improvisations and ad-libs, which were scarcely affected by a broken leg that caused him to play the part in a wheelchair.
1985 The first day of advance ticket sales for the December 5 opening of Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind sets a new one-day mark for Off-Broadway of $41,210. The star-studded cast includes Harvey Keitel, Geraldine Page, and Amanda Plummer.
1981 Oh, Brother!, Michael Valenti's musical based on The Comedy of Errors, relocates Shakespeare's story of mistaken identity to revolutionary Iran. The taking of American hostages during its prep period does little to help its appeal, and it closes after just three performances, despite the presence of Judy Kaye, David Carroll, Harry Groener, and Richard B. Shull. The cast album inspires a modest cult of fans.
1993 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opens on Broadway in its first revival production, a transfer of Steven Pimlott's hit West End staging that included a full children's choir onstage throughout. Michael Damian and Kelli Rabke lead the cast as Joseph and the Narrator.
1997 An array of wondrous props and puppets fail to help the Gip Hoppe satire, Jackie, bring in the crowds. The carnival-like look at the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis runs 128 performances at the Belasco Theatre.
2004 The Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera plays its 7,000th performance.
2011 Hugh Jackman returns to The Great White Way in his musical evening, Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, opening at the Broadhurst Theatre. During the limited run, Jackman breaks records both at the box office and for money raised for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. In recognition of his "contributions to the Broadway community, both as a performer and humanitarian; his tireless dedication to charitable works of many types; and his personal generosity of spirit," Jackman receives a Special Tony Award in 2012.
2013 Shakespeare's Globe's all-male productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III open on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre. Directed by Tim Carroll, the plays star Mark Rylance, Stephen Fry, and Samuel Barnett. Rylance receives a Tony nomination for his performance in the title role of Richard III, and wins for his performance as Olivia in Twelfth Night.
2019 The Transport Group and Public Theater’s world premiere of Broadbend, Arkansas opens at the Duke on 42nd Street. Starring Justin Cunningham (When They See Us) and Danyel Fulton (Jasper in Deadland), the musical traces three generations of an African-American family as they grapple with inequality, violence, and suppression in the South.
More of Today's Birthdays: Maude Turner Gordon (1868-1940). Claude Rains (1889-1967). Roy Scheider (1932-2008). Marilyn Bergman (b. 1929). Clare Higgins (b. 1955). Jeanine Tesori (b. 1961). Jennifer Cody (b. 1969). Derrick Baskin (b. 1975). Andy Mientus (b. 1986).