December

1st – The original Broadway production of The Colour Purple opened in 2005 and ran for 30 previews and 910 performances. The production was a success and recouped its initial investment within its first year, grossing over $103 million by the time it closed in 2008. The production was also nominated for 11 Tony Awards, winning one – Best Actress for LaChanze.

2nd – The original Broadway production of The Student Prince opened in 1924. The operetta is probably best known for the drinking song Drink! Drink! Drink! which was very popular amongst audiences throughout prohibition era New York.

3rd – The original Broadway production of Kismet opened in 1953 and ran for 583 performances. The production opened during a newspaper strike, so television advertisements were used to promote the show – this gave the show widespread public attention and helped to ensure the show’s popularity. The production was nominated for 3 Tony awards and won all 3, including Best Musical.

4th – Lillian Russell was born in 1860. She was one of the most popular singers of operetta during the 20th Century.

5th – American animator and producer Walt Disney was born in 1901. During the course of his career, Disney won a total of 22 Academy Awards and holds the record for most Academy Awards won by an individual. In 1920 he founded the Walt Disney Company with his brother, Roy O. Disney – the company would grow to become one of the biggest mass media companies in the world and would create some of the most loved children’s films of all time.

6th – Lyricist Ira Gershwin was born 1869. He was best known for his collaborations with his brother, George Gershwin – together they wrote Lady Be good (1924), Oh, Kay! (1926), Strike Up the Band (1927), Funny Face (1927), their Pulitzer Prize winning musical Of Thee I Sing (1931), Damsel In Distress (1937) and Shall We Dance (1937).

7th – Singer Songwriter Sara Bareilles was born in 1979. She is best known for writing the score for the Broadway musical Waitress.

8th – The original Broadway production of Nick and Nora opened in 1991 and ran for 71 previews and 9 performances.

9th – One of Britain’s best loved and most recognisable actresses, Dame Judi Dench was born in 1934. She has worked successfully in both theatre and film, playing everything from Shakespearean roles to M in the Bond franchise. She is no stranger to musical theatre either; her musical theatre roles include Sally Bowles in the original London production of Cabaret (1968) and Desiree Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (1995), which earned her an Olivier Award for Best Actress.

10th – American dancer and choreographer Hermes Pan was born in 1909. He is best known for his collaboration with Fred Astaire and for his work on the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films throughout the 1930s. In 1937 he earned  an Academy Award for Best Dance Direction for A Damsel in Distress.

11th – In 1992 The Muppets Christmas Carol was released in cinemas across Australia and America.

12th – American singer and Academy Award winning actor Frank Sinatra (aka Old Blue Eyes) was born in 1915. He was one of the most iconic singers of 20th Century and is the biggest selling artist of all time, having sold 150 million records. He starred in Hollywood films such as Anchors Aweigh (1945), On The Town (1949), From Here to Eternity (1953) and Guys and Dolls (1955).

13th – American actor Dick van Dyke was born in 1925. He is best known for starring as Bert in Mary Poppins (1964) and as Caractacus Pott in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). He also won a Tony Award for his role in the original Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie (1960).

14th – The original Broadway production of Shrek opened in 2008 and runs for 37 previews and 441 performances. At the time, it was the most expensive show to open on Broadway at a total cost of $25 million. The show received 8 Tony Award nominations, and won 1 for Best Costume Design.

15th –  American director Julie Taymor was born in 1952. She is best known for directing the stage adaption of The Lion King, which earned her a Tony Award for Best Direction and made her the first woman to win a Tony for Direction of Musical Theatre.

16th – English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer Sir Noël Coward was born in 1889 – known for his wit, flamboyance, he was often referred to as ‘The Master’.

17th – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was released in cinemas throughout the UK. The film was adapted into a stage musical which premiered in the West End in 2002 and became the longest running musical at the London Palladium.

18th – In 2009 the film adaptation of Nine premiered in Los Angeles. The film was met with mixed reviews from critics and failed to make back its budget, but it was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Costumes and Best Original Song for Maury Yeston’s song Take It All.

19th – The original Broadway production of The Music Man opened in 1957 and ran for 1,375 performances. The show was a smash hit and  won 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical, beating West Side Story which opened 3 months earlier. The show also won the first Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.

20th – The original Broadway production of Dreamgirls opened in 1981 and ran for 1,521 performances. The show was a huge hit and was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won 6, including Best Book.

21st – In 1937 Disney’s Snow White and Seven Dwarfs premiered in Los Angeles – it is considered to be the first fully animated feature length film and was met with a positive response from critics and audiences alike, earnings $8 million dollars during its initial release. The film was nominated for an Academy Award Best Score and Walt Disney was awarded with an honorary Oscar for the film in 1939.

22nd – In 2004, the film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera was released in cinemas across America. A film adaption was first announced in 1989, but production on the film did not start until 2002 due to numerous setbacks. The film grossed $154.6 million worldwide but was met with mixed reviews from the critics who praised the look of the film, but felt the screenplay and direction was weak.

23rd – Broadway performer Ann Pennington was born in 1893. She was best known for performing on Broadway during the early 20th Century, when she appeared in revues such as the Ziegfeld Follies in which she would perform the Black Bottom Dance, a popular dance during the jazz age – she was also an accomplished tap dancer. Like many performers at the time, Pennington sought fame and fortune in Hollywood – she performed in many silent films and early films with sound.

24th – In 1970, Disney’s Aristocats was released in cinemas across America. The film was the last project approved by Disney before his death in 1966 and production began once The Jungle Book was near completion.The film was received positively and was a box office success and has grossed $55.7 million to date

25th – In 2006, the film adaptation of Dreamgirls was released in cinemas across America. An adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical of the same name, the film stars Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé, Eddie Murphy, Anika Noni Rose and Jennifer Hudson, whose film debut earned her a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Dreamgirls is the most expensive film to feature an all African-American cast in the history of American cinema, costing $80 million dollars to produce. The film was received positively by critics and earned $154 million in Box Office receipts. The film was nominated for 5 Golden Globe Awards and won 3, including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) – the film was also nominated for 6 Academy Awards and won 3, but was not nominated for Best Picture.

26th – In 1910, the London Palladium opened its doors to the theatre going public for the first time. The London Palladium is a Grade II listed building located on Argyll Street in the City of Westminster – a short walk from London’s West End and a stone’s throw away from Oxford Street, one of London’s busiest shopping streets. The Palladium was built by Walter Gibbons, to compete with the London Hippodrome and the London Coliseum and the building was designed by Frank Matcham, who also designed the London Coliseum. The building was initially intended as a venue for variety shows and pantomimes – over the years the theatre has hosted the Royal Variety Show a record of 41 times and was the home of the popular TV show Sunday Night at the Palladium from 1955 to 1967.

27th – In 2002, the film adaptation of Chicago was released in cinemas in America. The film was received extremely positively by critics and won 6 Academy Award, including Best Picture – becoming the first musical film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture since Oliver in 1968. Like Moulin Rouge, the film has often been credited reviving interest around the musical genre in Hollywood and paved the way for a number of musical films in the following years.

28th – The original Broadway production of On The Town opened in 1944 and ran for 462 performances – the production had a rather racially diverse cast (unusual in 1944) which included Sono Osato in the role of Ivy, six African American actors in the chorus, and the African American conductor Everett Lee, who also joined the production after nine months. It took until 1963 for the musical to make its way to the West End where it ran for just 63 performances – a film adaption was also made by MGM in 1949.

29th – You may think this one is a bit of a stretch, but – on this day in 1170, Thomas A’ Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. His story has been adapted countless times for film, stage and TV, but did you know his life was turned into a musical in 1975 by none other than noted film composer, John Williams! Thomas and the King (lyrics by James Harbert/book by Edward Anhalt) was not received well and never made the leap to Broadway, thus becoming one of the UK’s most forgotten musicals – but luckily a cast recording exists! This musical may have been unsuccessful, but John Williams went on to become one of the most successful film composers of all time.

30th – In 1979, American composer Richard Rodgers died, aged 77. He was best known for his collaborations with lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. In total, he wrote the music for 43 musicals, including some of the most well known works in the musical theatre cannon, such as Oklahoma (1943), Carousel (1945), The King and I (1951) and The Sound of Music (1959) – the musicals he wrote with Oscar Hammerstein II won 35 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, two Grammy Awards, and two Emmy Awards.

​31st – In 1905, British – American composer Jule Styne was born. He was best known for writing musicals such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Gypsy (1959), Funny Girl (1963) and the Tony award winning Hallelujah, Baby! (1967) – over the course of his career he collaborated with lyricists and composers such as Sammy Cahn, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Stephen Sondheim and Bob Merrill.