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Broadway Anniversaries and Milestones

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  • Jeffrey Kare
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    On this day in 1959, the original production of William Gibson’s biographical play, The Miracle Worker opened on Broadway at the (now closed) Playhouse Theatre. The following year, it went on to win four Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Lead Actress in a Play (Anne Bancroft), Best Direction of a Play (Arthur Penn), and the now-retired category of Best Stage Technician (John Walters).

    In 1962, the play was brought to the big screen with Penn repeating his directorial duties and Gibson adapting his own script. Four of the original Broadway cast members also got to reprise their roles such as Anne Bancroft as Anne Sullivan, Patty Duke as Helen Keller, Kathleen Comegys as Aunt Ev, and Beah Richards as Viney. Not to mention that actor Jack Hollander, who was a replacement in the Broadway production, got to reprise his role as Mr. Anagnos in the film. The following year, the film received five Academy Award nominations, but wasn’t up for Best Picture. Though it did pick up two trophies for Best Actress (Anne Bancroft; making her one of 11 performers to have won a Tony and an Oscar for the same role) and Best Supporting Actress (Patty Duke).

    The play had only been revived on Broadway once back in 2010. The production was the first Broadway credit for director Kate Whoriskey and starred Alison Pill as Anne Sullivan with Abigail Breslin as Helen Keller. Sadly, the production failed to find an audience, and had to close about a month after its official opening. Pill’s understudy in that production happened to have been a Broadway debutante by the name of Katrina Lenk, who is currently enjoying a breakout year with Indecent, and now even more so with The Band’s Visit.

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    adamunc
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    October 23 is a pretty big day in Broadway history. Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park, starring a pre-fame Robert Redford, opened on this date in 1963 and Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin, under the direction and choreography of Bob Fosse, opened in 1972.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    On this day in 1975, the original Broadway production of Tom Stoppard’s Travesties opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The following year, it went on to win two Tony Awards (including Best Play). This spring, Roundabout Theatre Company will be presenting the first Broadway revival coming in from London starring Tom Hollander.

    Also on this day in 2003 came the birth of Stephen Schwartz & Winnie Holzman’s musical Wicked. Despite mixed critical reviews, the show went on to become a global sensation that’s still running today at the Gershwin Theatre.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    #1202402447

    On this day in 1987, the original Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s beloved musical, Into the Woods opened at the Martin Beck (now Al Hirschfeld) theatre. While it did suffer from opening the same season as The Phantom of the Opera, the musical still managed to win 3 Tony Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason), Best Book of a Musical (Lapine), and Best Original Score (Sondheim). The original cast recording also won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album in 1989.

    A few months before the original production ended its Broadway run, most of the original cast reunited to have three performances filmed for PBS, which led to the show finding a bigger following in the years since.

    To this day, Into the Woods has frequently been performed by high schools, community theatres, and regional theatres, and was recently brought to the big screen in 2014 from director Rob Marshall.

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    Alex Meyer
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    My high school did Into The Woods when I was in 12th grade and I played one of the narrators (we technically had six narrators instead of one because our director wanted to have as many kids in the show as possible). I was Narrator #3.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    On this day in 1997, the stage musical adaptation of The Lion King opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Though before that, everyone thought it was a crazy idea to take an animated film set in an African safari with no human characters, and turn it into a live stage show. Yet, thanks to the brilliant vision of director/costume designer Julie Taymor, she along with her creative team were able to build such a mind-blowing production that still continues to run today at the Minskoff Theatre.

    The production went on to win 6 Tony Awards (including Best Musical; Taymor also became the first woman in history to have won the Tony for Best Direction of a Musical), and currently ranks as the third longest-running Broadway show in history as well as the highest grossing entertainment entity of all time, having grossed more than $1,000,000,000.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    On this day in 1947, the original Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire starring Jessica Tandy, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, & Karl Malden opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. In 1951, most of the original cast reunited with director Elia Kazan for an acclaimed film adaptation starring Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois.

    Also on this day in 1960, the original Broadway production of Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Lowe’s Camelot starring Richard Burton & Julie Andrews opened at the Majestic Theatre. Despite mixed critical reviews, the show became a hit through its original cast recording and performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. While it failed to receive a Tony nomination the following year for Best Musical, Camelot still managed to win 4 awards (including Lead Actor in a Musical for Richard Burton).

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    On this day in 1964, the original Broadway production of Jerry Herman & Michael Stewart’s Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing opened at the St. James Theatre. The show was an enormous hit that won 10 Tony Awards (included Best Musical), an all-time record it held onto until The Producers broke the record with 12 wins in 2001.

    Hello, Dolly! is currently enjoying an enormously successful Broadway revival that opened with Bette Midler as America’s favorite meddling matchmaker, and Bernadette Peters will be taking over this Saturday.

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    JayDF
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    I saw a Carol Channing on tour with this show in 1982, when I was 7 years old. At the end of the show my Mom told me to run down to the stage to get a better look and I swore afterwards that Channing had winked at me. Years later I wrote Channing a fan letter and said that at the time I swore she winked at me specifically. I sent my program along for an autograph and she signed it “Dear Jay, I did indeed wink at you. xxx’s & ooo’s.” So sweet of her. I know the entire score backwards & forwards. A major favorite musical of mine.

    On this day in 1964, the original Broadway production of Jerry Herman & Michael Stewart’s Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing opened at the St. James Theatre. The show was an enormous hit that won 10 Tony Awards (included Best Musical), an all-time record it held onto until The Producers broke the record with 12 wins in 2001.

    Hello, Dolly! is currently enjoying an enormously successful Broadway revival that opened with Bette Midler as America’s favorite meddling matchmaker, and Bernadette Peters will be taking over this Saturday.

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