1st – George S.Irving was born in 1922. A performer in the Golden Age of Broadway, he featured in such stage shows as Oklahoma, Me and Juliet, Bells are Ringing, Can-Can and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. During his later career he starred in Me and My Girl, Busker Alley and A Wonderful Life.
2nd – The Lyceum Theatre opens on Broadway in 1903 – it’s one of the oldest surviving theatres in NYC, the oldest continuously operating theatre and one of the few theatres to still operate under its original name.
3rd – Mary Martin died in 1990 aged 76 – she was a muse of Rodgers and Hammerstein and originated the roles of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific (1949) and Maria von Trapp The Sound of Music, She also starred as the title tole in Peter Pan (1954) – all of these roles earned her Tony Awards for her performances.
4th – Calamity Jane is released in cinemas in 1953. The film is a musical western inspired by the life of Calamity Jane and was devised by the Warner Brothers studios as response to MGM’s 1950 film, Annie Get Your Gun which incredible popular. The song ‘Secret Love’ won an Academy Award for best song and Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster and film was also nominated for Best Score and Best Sound.
5th – The original Broadway production Into the Woods opened in 1987 and runs for 765 performances. The musical was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and won 3, including Best Score and Best Book – however, it missed out on the Best Musical accolade, which was won by The Phantom of the Opera.
6th – American actress Patina Miller was born in 1984. She is best known for creating the role of Deloris Van Cartier in both the original West End and Broadway productions of Sister Act – She also starred as the Leading Player in the Broadway revival of Pippin (2013) for which she won a Tony Award for Best Actress.
7th – American actor Howard Keel dies in 2004. He began his career performing in the 1940s, performing in muscials such as Oklahoma and Carousel. He went on star in musical films for MGM and was famous for his role as Clayton Farlow 80’s television show Dallas.
8th – The original Broadway production of Oh, Kay! opened in 1926 and ran for 256 performances. Oh, Kay! is based on the play La Presidente by Maurice Hanniquin and Pierre Veber – it has music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. The original Broadway production starred Gertrude Lawrence, who was chosen before a single note of the score had been written.
9th – In 1992, Scrooge: The Musical opened in Birmingham for a limited run during the festive season. The stage adaptation of the 1970 film Scrooge, it has book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the original film. The original production was directed by Bob Tomson and the illusions were created by Paul Kieve – Anthony Newley played the original Scrooge and went onto reprise the role in 1997 West End production at the Dominion Theatre.
10th – British lyricist Tim Rice was born in 1944. Tim Rice is an Academy Award, Tony Award, and Grammy Award-winning lyricist and arguably one of the most successful lyricists of all time. His most famous works include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Chess, The Lion King, Aladdin, King David, Aida and From Here to Eternity (which he also produced). He has been on MusicalTalk three times and remains a strong friend of the show.
11th – In 1951, An American in Paris was released in cinemas across America. The film nominated for a total of 8 Academy awards and won 6, including Best Picture, Best Music, Best Screenplay – the film also won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
12th – The New Broadway revival of Little Me opened in 1998 and ran for 99 performances. The revival received a mixed response from critics, who felt the show was still heavily flawed, despite the revisions and Martin Short’s tour de force performance (which won him a Tony Award for Best Actor) – despite this, the production still managed a total of four Tony Awards nominations, including Best Revival of a musical.
13th – The original Broadway production of The Lion King opened in 1997 – it is still running today.
Disney’s film Beauty and the Beast also premiered in New York City on this day in 1991. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture and was the first ever animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture – the film also won an Academy Award for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (for the song Beauty and the Beast). A live action remake was released in March 2017 and within 4 days the film grossed $357 million and became the highest grossing live action musical of all time.
14th – The original Broadway production of Elf: The Musical opened in 2010 for a limited run over the Christmas season. Elf: The Musical is a based on the Christmas film of the same name – it has a score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin and book by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan. The musical received mixed reviews, but was popular enough with audiences to return to Broadway the following Christmas – the musical has also toured the US nationally every Christmas since 2012 and in 2014 the musical was adapted into an animated film for television by NBC. In 2015 the musical made its UK premiere at the West End’s Dominion Theatre for a 10 week run – the show received mixed reviews, but it was the fasting selling show in the history of the Dominion Theatre. The musical is also due to be performed in the UK This Christmas at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth and the Lowry Theatre in Salford.
15th – The original Broadway production of La Cage aux Folles closed in 1987 after 1,761 performances. The original Broadway production was directed by Arthur Laurents, who wasn’t taken with the idea of the musical as he was not a fan of drag acts and thought the producers would struggle to find the investors to finance a musical centred around gay characters due to the AIDS epidemic and a rise in homophobia during the 1980s. His interest grew however, when Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman joined the project and played him the song I Am What I Am, which would become one of the show’s biggest hits. Jerry Herman did not want to the show to become fiercely political in tone – instead he felt the musical should he charming and enjoyable and that a less aggressive approach would allow the show to appeal to a wider audience, thus allowing the show’s message to reach more people. This turned out to a wise move and the show was met with enthusiasm on Broadway – it was nominated for 9 Tony Awards and won 6, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.
16th – The original Broadway production of The Sound of Music opened in 1959 and ran for 1,443 performances and won five Tony Awards including Best Musical. The Sound of Music was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s last musical work for the Broadway stage as Hammerstein died 9 months after the original Broadway production opened. The musical is based on the 1956 film The Trapp Family which was based on the memoirs of Maria Von Trapp. The original Broadway production starred Mary Martin as Maria and was directed Vincent J. Donehue – it was nominated for a total of 9 Tony Awards and won 5, including Best Musical and Best Actress in a Musical for Mary Martin. A London production followed in 1961 and the film adaption starring Julie Andrews was released in 1965 – the musical has enjoyed countless revivals and remains popular amongst audiences.
17th – In 1989, Disney‘s The Little Mermaid was released in cinemas in 1989. The Little Mermaid is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name – it is Disney’s 28th animated film and it sparked a renaissance era for musical animations at Disney throughout the 1990s. The film was written and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker – music was written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman (who also acted as a co producer).The film was received positively by both critics and audiences, earning $84 million during its initial release – to date the film was earned approximately $211 million worldwide. In 2007 the film was adapted for the Broadway stage and in 2016, Disney announced that a live-action film adaptation is underway.
18th – British Lyricist and librettist Sir W.S Gilbert was born in 1836. He is best known for writing the Savoy operas with his collaborator, composer Sir Arthur Sullivan – their works continue to be hugely popular all around the world, as the themes and wit encompassed in their shows help them to remain current. Gilbert started his career in the civil service, became a captain in the militia and had a brief career as a barrister before he picked up a pen and began writing. One of his first works was a comic piece called No Cards – diligent MusicalTalk listeners will remember was presented in its entirety on an episode many years back, featuring our very own Thos Ribbits in a cameo role.
19th – in 1937, Damsel in Distress was released in cinemas across America. Damsel In Distress is a musical comedy written by P. G. Wodehouse, with music by George Gerswhin and and lyrics by Ira Gershwin – George Gershwin sadly died whilst production on the film was underway and the film was released shortly after his death. The film starred Fred Astaire, who was not was not paired with Ginger Rogers; instead he was paired with Joan Fontaine who was just 19 and had very little dance experience – this could be one of the reasons the film was not received well, as Astaire and Rogers were very popular amongst audiences. The film may have been the first Fred Astaire film to lose money at the box office, it still earned an Academy Award for Best Dance Direction (for Hermes Pan) – the film was also nominated for an award for Best Art Direction.
20th – The original Broadway production of Cabaret opened in 1966 and runs for 1,165 performances and wins 7 Tony Awards. Cabaret is musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and book by Joe Masteroff – it is based on the play I Am a Camera by John Van Druten. The original Broadway production was directed Harold Prince, whose staging was highly unusual for the time – the show began with the curtain already raised on a stage which contained just a large mirror reflecting the auditorium. The score was also rather unconventional, as there was no overture – just a drum roll to signal the start of the show. The production was received well and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won 7, including Best Musical and Best Score. A West End production followed in 1968 and a successful film adaption directed by Bob Fosse and starring Liza Minelli was released in 1972. There have also been a number of successful revivals over the years – the most recent revival in Australia included songs written specially for the film and elements from the recent Broadway Revivals.
21st – The original Broadway production of Anything Goes opened on Broadway in 1934 and ran for 420 performances. Anything Goes has music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. The original Broadway production was received well and ran for over a year, despite the impact of the Great Depression on Broadway and the economy. A West End production followed in 1935 and two film adaptions – there have also been a number of a successful revivals, including two major Broadway revivals in 1987 and 2011.
22nd – Man of La Mancha opened in 1965 at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre in Greenwich Village. The musical has been revived many times on Broadway, but it is not as popular in the UK – although the song The Impossible Dream is well known.
23rd – American composer Jerry Bock was born in 1928. He is best known for his collaboration with Sheldon Harnick, together they wrote The Body Beautiful, Fiorello! (which won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Musical), Tenderloin, Fiddler on the Roof, The Apple Tree, She Loves Me, and The Rothschilds.
24th – The original West End production of Matilda opened in 2011 after an initial run in Stratford upon Avon. The show has won more Olivier Awards than any other show in history and continues to play all over the world.
25th – In 1992, Disney’s Aladdin was released in cinemas and became the most successful film of the year. Aladdin is based on the Middle Eastern folk stories, One Thousand and One Nights (often referred to as the Arabian Nights). The idea for the film was originally pitched by Howard Ashman (who worked on the film with composer Alan Menken) – Ashman sadly died before the film was completed, so Tim Rice was brought on board to provide additional lyrics. The music earned the film two Academy Awards – Best Original Score and Best Original Song for A Whole New World. The film was received well by critics who praised Robin William’s performance as the Genie – but some criticised the film’s use of ethnic stereotypes. In 2014, the musical was adapted for the Broadway stage and a live action remake of the film is anticipated in 2019.
26th – The original Broadway production of The Boyfriend closed in 1955 after 485 performances. The Boyfriend is a pastiche of early 1920s musicals – particularly the The Girl Friend by Rodgers and Hart. The original Broadway production starred Julie Andrews who was making her Broadway debut aged 18 – the production was not quite as successful as the original West End production which ran for 2,078 performances. In 1971 a (slightly bizarre) film version was released starring Twiggy in the leading role.
27th – Forbidden Broadway‘s Gerard Alessandrini was born in 1953. Forbidden Broadway began in 1982 and is a revue satirising Broadway musicals, including Les Miserables, Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera – the revue has been revived many times over the years and the parodies adapted to remain relevant. Alessandrini was also one of the very first guests on MusicalTalk, appearing in episode 5!
28th – The original Broadway production of Via Galactica opened on Broadway in 1972 and ran for just 7 performances and lost over 1 million dollars.
29th – American Choreographer Busby Berkeley was born 1895. The film medium enabled Berkeley to further develop choreographic style – on film routines could be viewed from every possible angle (something which is difficult to achieve on stage), whether that be close ups on different limbs or even a birds eye view of the overall picture. Two of Berkeley’s signatures techniques included creating a ‘parade of faces’, in which he showed the audience of a close up of each individual chorus girl and creating kaleidoscopic patterns as which would be shot from above. Many of his techniques are still used today as his style is instantly recognisable – his choreography has inspired many contemporary works from the Be Our Guest sequence in Beauty and the Beast to musicals such as The Producers.
30th – The original Broadway production of Mack and Mabel closed in 1974, after 5 previews and 66 performances. The production received 8 Tony Award nominations but failed to win any – Jerry Herman’s score was not nominated for an award and whilst many critics praised the songs, they commented that the musical was out too old fashioned and out of place amongst the rock musicals that were dominating the industry at the time.