Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 2 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: December 2 In 1985, The Mystery of Edwin Drood opens on Broadway.
George Rose (front) with the cast of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1912 The Firefly sparks the Lyric Theatre with music by Rudolf Friml and lyrics and book by Otto Harbach. The tale of an Italian street singer who disguises herself as a boy to be near the wealthy man she loves stars Emma Trentini, Craig Campbell, and Audrey Maple.

1919 Impersonation yet again. This time Laurette Taylor's character in One Night in Rome impersonates a fortune-teller, L'Enigme, who forces a young man to discover he is in love with her. J. Hartley Manners created the role specifically for Taylor, his wife.

1924 The Student Prince opens at the Jolson Theatre in New York. The show, based on the play Old Heidelberg, has a book and lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly with a score by Sigmund Romberg. Tunes include the "Drinking Song." In the story, a prince falls in love with a waitress. It stars Howard Marsh and Ilse Marvenga.

1925 Julie Harris is born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She earns fame and respect for her performances in The Member of the Wedding and The Belle of Amherst, among other plays.

1943 Oscar Hammerstein II transports Georges Bizet's opera Carmen from southern Spain to the southern United States, and gives it the new title Carmen Jones. An all-black cast performs Bizet's music with Hammerstein's new book and lyrics. Muriel Rahn and Muriel Smith share the demanding title role, with each taking four performances a week. The show runs 503 performances at the Broadway Theatre, and is later turned into a film starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte.

1979 Martin Sherman’s play about homosexuals in the Nazi concentration camps, Bent, opens at the New Apollo Theatre. Richard Gere stars as a gay man who is also Jewish. Other cast members include David Marshall Grant and David Dukes. The show runs for 241 performances.

1985 The Mystery of Edwin Drood, adapted from the Charles Dickens novel by Rupert Holmes, opens on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. The show ran for free in Central Park over the previous summer. Dickens never finished his novel, and because of this, the responsibility of choosing an ending falls to the audience each night. The cast includes Betty Buckley, George Rose, Donna Murphy, and George N. Martin.

1999 Audra McDonald receives her fourth Tony Award nomination—and first for Leading Actress in a Musical—for the Lincoln Center Theater production of Marie Christine, opening today at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The musical was written especially for McDonald by Michael John LaChiusa. An ambitious musical adaptation of the Greek tragedy, Medea, Marie Christine runs on Broadway for just 42 performances and receives five Tony Award nominations.

2004 Amon Miyamoto becomes the first Japanese director to stage a major musical on Broadway with the opening of Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Pacific Overtures at Studio 54, starring B.D. Wong and two members of the original 1976 production, Sab Shimono and Alvin Y. F. Ing.

2011 The New York premiere of David Adjmi's funny and savage portrait of civilized life, Elective Affinities, opens Off-Broadway. Starring Zoe Caldwell as witty octogenarian Alice Hauptmann, the site-specific production is performed in a townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side where an audience of 30 is served tea and sandwiches before being invited to join Caldwell in an intimate sitting room for the play.

2012 Patti LuPone and Debra Winger debate faith, politics, persecution, and redemption in the world premiere of David Mamet's The Anarchist, opening at the John Golden Theatre. The 70-minute work casts LuPone as an inmate serving a life sentence and Winger as the woman who must determine whether she is fit for parole, and it closes after 17 performances.

2015 Sheridan Smith stars in a sold-out revival of Funny Girl at London‘s Menier Chocolate Factory. Michael Mayer directs, with Harvey Fierstein penning a new and revised book. This is the first major London production of the musical since its original 1966 West End run with Barbra Streisand. The production later transfers to the West End‘s Savoy Theatre.

More of Today's Birthdays: Adolph Green (1914-2002). Ray Walston (1914-2001). Ezra Stone (1917-1994). Jonathan Frid (1924-2012). Ron Raines (b. 1949). Wilson Jermaine Heredia (b. 1971).

Stephanie J. Block, Chita Rivera and Will Chase Star in Broadway's Mystery of Edwin Drood

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