Tuesday, January 15, 2008

August company

This appeals to the theater geek and history buff in me.

I was so excited when I saw LoveMusik at the Biltmore Theatre last spring and realized I would be sitting in the very same place where Hair opened on Broadway in April 1968. I was listening to "Surabaya Johnny," but every once in awhile thinking about the dawning of the age of Aquarius.

Since then, from time to time I've browsed the Internet Broadway Database to see which actors trod the boards at theaters where I've been, and what shows opened there. The Imperial Theatre, currently home to August: Osage County, has in the past been home to Dreamgirls, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret and Gypsy.

One thing I didn't realize is that shows sometimes switch theaters, or at least they did in the past. Fiddler's 3,242 performances, between 1964 and 1972, were split among the Imperial, the Majestic and the Broadway theaters.

In 1944, 20-year-old Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut at The Music Box, playing Nels in I Remember Mama. It was the same stage where I saw Deuce with Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes, and The Farnsworth Invention.

Kevin Spacey won his Tony award in 1991, for Best Featured Actor in a Play, as Uncle Louie in Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. It's the same place where I saw Kevin Kline in Cyrano in November.

And Spacey made his Broadway debut at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in 1982, playing Liv Ullmann's son in Ghosts. Twenty-five years later, I sat in the second row at the same theater to see Spacey and Eve Best in A Moon for the Misbegotten - my first Broadway show.


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Oh how I love looking at the theatre history tucked neatly away in most show's Playbill. To think that all the great actors of the last century graced the stage at one point or another.

Even if the show I'm seeing is lackluster, the spirit of those who have tread each theatre's boards is anything but.

Esther said...

Oh yeah, I definitely agree. It's just great to get a sense of the history in each theater. I mean, to think that 20-year-old Marlon Brando once graced the same stage where I watched Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes is pretty awesome.