Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 27 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 27 In 1927, the original production of Show Boat opens on Broadway.
A scene from the original 1927 production of Show Boat. White Studio / The New York Public Library

1920 Brock Pemberton's Miss Lulu Bett opens at the Belmont Theatre. It runs 198 performances and wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

1924 London drama critic and playwright William Archer dies. He contributed to Figaro, the World, Tribune, and the Nation. His translations of Henrik Ibsen were produced in the 1890s. In 1921 his melodrama, The Green Goddess, ran for 54 weeks at the Booth Theatre.

1926 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's Peggy-Ann opens at the Vanderbilt Theatre. Despite its 333-performance run, it is one of the most rarely revived of the team's musicals.

1927 The intricate lives of people living on a Show Boat come to life at the Ziegfeld Theatre. Adapted by Oscar Hammerstein II from Edna Ferber's novel, the score composed by Jerome Kern includes soon-to-be-classics "Ol' Man River" and "Make Believe." The cast includes Helen Morgan, Norma Terris, Charles Winninger, and Jules Bledsoe.

1941 Clifford Odets' Clash By Night centers on a husband who comes to realize the man to whom he has opened his home is having an affair with his wife. Lee J. Cobb, Joseph Schildkraut, and Tallulah Bankhead fight it out at the Belasco Theatre.

1945 Home of the Brave gains critical and financial recognition. Playwright Arthur Laurents wins $1,000 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his timely war story.

1948 U.S. premiere of Jean Giraudoux's fantasy allegory The Madwoman of Chaillot at the Belasco Theatre, starring Martita Hunt as Countess Aurelia. It is later adapted as the musical Dear World.

1961 Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green team up for their second musical in a year, Subways Are for Sleeping, which attempts to offer a humorous portrait of homeless people. When it is slammed by the critics, producer David Merrick responds with one of his most memorable PR stunts, hiring people with the same names as the critics, and running their (positive) comments in a quote ad. It doesn't help. However, it also introduces actor Phyllis Newman, who wins a Tony Award for her performance.

1965 Broadway is mesmerized and scandalized by Peter Brook's staging of Peter Weiss' long-titled drama, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, also known as Marat/Sade, one of the first plays on the American stage to offer full frontal nudity. It wins the Tony Award as Best Play and runs at the Martin Beck Theatre.

1999 Emmy winner Susan Lucci takes her opening night bow as a temporary replacement for Tony Award-winning Bernadette Peters in the Broadway revival of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun.

2002 The film adaptation of John Kander and Fred Ebb's Chicago opens in major markets. Rob Marshall directed the film version of the 1975 musical, which goes on to win the 2003 Academy Award for Best Picture—the first musical to do so since Oliver! in 1968.

2014 The world premiere of Sheryl Crow and Barry Levinson's musical Diner opens at Virginia's Signature Theatre. Kathleen Marshall directs the show, based on Levinson's 1982 film about a group of childhood friends who reunite for a wedding in 1959 Baltimore. The cast includes Whitney Bashor, Josh Grisetti, Derek Klena, Adam Kantor, and Matthew James Thomas.

2016 Carrie Fisher, the storied film actor best known as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, dies at age 60, after suffering a heart attack during a flight from London to Los Angeles. Fisher made her Broadway debut in the musical Irene, opposite her mother, Debbie Reynolds; and later appeared in Censored Scenes from King Kong, Agnes of God, and her autobiographical solo show, Wishful Drinking.

2018 Sono Osato, the Japanese-American ballet dancer who created the role of Ivy Smith in the 1944 Broadway premiere of On the Town, dies at age 99. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, she joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at the age of 14, making history as the internationally renowned troupe's youngest dancer, first American, and first dancer of Japanese descent. She later joined the American Ballet Theatre, and also appeared on Broadway in One Touch of Venus.

Today's Birthdays: Sydney Greenstreet (1879-1954). Milton Shubert (1901-1967). Marlene Dietrich (1901-1922). Oscar Levant (1906-1972). Tommy Rall (1929-2020). Tovah Feldshuh (b. 1952). Joe Mantello (b. 1962).

Celebrating the Stage Work of Two-Time Tony Winner Joe Mantello

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