Pancho Villa (l) in 1911; Robert Preston as Villa (r) in 1962. With that headline and that photograph, you might be wondering how the Massachusetts born and Southern California raised Robert Preston was ever cast as a Mexican revolutionary. And you would be right to do so. However, you would also have to consider the time in which the Broadway musicalWe Take the Town was being conceived. First, in the early 1960s audiences bought inauthentic ethnic casting all the time. No on
Today’s birthday boys: Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber. Every year when March rolls around, I’m still surprised by the number of so many of my favorite theatre artists who share my birthday month. It feels special to be in the company of some extraordinary fellow members of the Pisces and Aries persuasion. Since the month began, I’ve already written about John Cullum and John Kander, and in the past I’ve written about John Garfield, Alan Arkin, Diane Wiest and others.
John Kander, born on this date March 18, 1927. Today is the 94th birthday of the legendary composer John Kander, who is still doing what he does best: writing musicals. With his long-time lyric-writing partner, Fred Ebb, they created eleven Broadway shows from Flora the Red Menace (1966) to Steel Pier (1997). That count was upped to fourteen musicals when, after Ebb’s death in 2004, three additional productions, Curtains (2007), The Scottsboro Boys (2010) and The Visit (2015)
Howard DaSilva and William Daniels as Ben Franklin and John Adams in 1776 (photo by Martha Swope). Fifty-two years ago yesterday afternoon, I took my seat as a just-turned twelve-year old in seat F 102 in the last row of the Richard Rodgers Theatre (then called the 46th Street), to see the second-to-last preview of a new musical titled 1776. All I knew about it was from the first ad I saw in the Sunday New York Times, which depicted an eaglet popping out of an egg with an Ame
Twenty-one year-old Julie Andrews in the original production of My Fair Lady (1956). With My Fair Lady turning sixty-five today, does it mean this world-favorite musical has reached retirement age? With no such mandatory restrictions in the theatre it might seem a frivolous question, yet in some cases, a show can wear out its welcome over many decades. Has time been kind to one of the most successful of the Golden Age of Musicals? A subject for today’s “Theatre Yesterday and
You know the milestone, right? Of course you do. Yeah, it’s my birthday today. I’m proud to have made it, too. It sure as hell seemed far away in 1967 when the song came out and I was only ten years-old, but here we are more than half-a-century later. 😌 And for the purposes of this column, in the way that some people like to see what the front page of the newspaper was like on the day of their birth, I’ll be taking a look at the Broadway ABC’s and see what shows were playing
John Cullum, born on this day March 2, 1930. When in September 1956, a production of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan opened at the Phoenix Theatre, a young actor took to the stage making his Broadway debut. True, he was only part of the ensemble, and even at that, no more than a supernumerary — “enumerated among the regular components of a group,” as Meriam-Webster specifies the term. Meaning that the 26-year-old John Cullum’s appearance was more about filling space onstage