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This Month in Theatre History

From Dame Maggie Smith’s birth to Samuel Beckett’s death, December was a month of entrances and exits.

80 Years Ago (1934)
Dame Maggie Smith is born on Dec. 28. Smith will perform at the Oxford Playhouse prior to making her Broadway debut in New Faces of 1956 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, and then go on to star in three more Broadway shows.

70 Years Ago (1944)
The original production of On the Town, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, opens at the Adelphi Theatre. The show plays 462 performances before closing, and will later be made into a 1949 film with Gene Kelley, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett and Vera-Ellen. The musical will be revived on Broadway three times, including a current production.

45 Years Ago (1969)
Hollywood icon Katharine Hepburn makes her Broadway musical debut in Coco at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, earning a Tony nomination for her performance. Hepburn had a storied stage career prior to Coco, including As You Like It and The Philadelphia Story (she also appeared in the film), but Coco will be the only musical in which she ever stars.

25 Years Ago (1989)
Samuel Beckett dies at the age of 83 in France. Known for his absurdist writing, Beckett is most celebrated for his plays Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape, Endgame and Happy Days. Beckett will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 1969.

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