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Broadway Anniversaries and Milestones

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  • Jeffrey Kare
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    On this day in 1984, the original production of Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with George opened at the Booth Theatre on Broadway starring Mandy Patinkin & Bernadette Peters. Despite opening to mixed reviews from critics, the show has since been considered a brilliant artistic achievement for everyone involved as it became the sixth musical in history to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Over the years, more people have discovered Sunday in the Park with George through the PBS broadcast, it’s been produced by many regional theatres, and ​even spawned two Broadway revivals.

    Let’s take a look back at the history of this Sondheim classic as well as its success at the Tonys.
    And the Tony Almost Went to…SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE

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    Awardsfan1990
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    Last night, The Book Of Mormon surpassed Grease as the 15th longest running show in Broadway history. http://www.playbill.com/article/the-book-of-mormon-surpasses-grease-to-become-15th-longest-running-broadway-show

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    On this day in 1994, the original production of Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s Passion opened at the Plymouth (now Gerald Schoenfeld) Theatre on Broadway. Despite going on to win 4 Tony Awards that year, the show unfortunately ended up becoming the shortest-running Best Musical winner in history after closing on January 7th, 1995 with a total of 280 performances. Though Passion​ has since lived on through the original cast recording and PBS broadcast that was later released on DVD.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    ^The Pajama Game opened on May 13th, 1954 at the St. James Theatre on Broadway.

    Now today is the 65th anniversary of the original production of The Pajama Game opening at the St. James Theatre on Broadway. Three years later, it was brought to the big screen with a film adaptation directed by George Abbott & Stanley Donen with most of the original cast reprising their roles. In fact, according to the show’s original Babe Williams, Janis Paige, the studio desired to use as many members of the Broadway cast as possible. However, one of the leads had to be a movie star. She said that the role of Sid Sorokin was originally offered to Frank Sinatra. Had he accepted, Paige would have gotten to play Babe in the film. Therefore, John Raitt got to have his only starring role on the big screen while the recently deceased Doris Day replaced Janis Paige.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    On this day in 1959, the original production of Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne, and Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Gypsy, opened at the Broadway Theatre on Broadway. Directed & choreographed by Jerome Robbins and starring Ethel Merman as Mama Rose, the show went on to receive 8 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical). While the production sadly went home empty handed on Tony night, the musical itself has more importantly been identified as one of the great works in the American musical theatre. Gypsy has since received four Broadway revivals, each of them were led by Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters, and Patti LuPone as well as two screen adaptations with Rosalind Russell and Bette Midler.

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