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First On Stage
Years ago, while teaching college courses in the History of American Musical Theatre, my research exposed numerous instances of innovation in the art form (“this was the first time…”) as theatrical technologies, along with musical styles and forms, evolved. I began to “collect” such phrases, which later included people, theatrical venues and other occasional oddities, into the collection and organized the data chronologically.
At this site, we focus on historical firsts. Innovation creates history, and this is a collection of innovative events, decisions and inventions. Among other things, the collection includes initial appearances of popular shows, songs and performers. Here, you’ll find descriptions of theatrical firsts in America from 1665 to 2000. Each “historical first” appears in bold type.
Generally, the New York opening is considered the finished form of any work (even if subsequent changes occur during the New York run). For the sake of maintaining some historical perspective, this site covers events through the 1999-2000 season.
Ongoing additions to the site include textual entries and pictures of people and theatrical venues. One project will soon offer links to audio files of songs in the public domain; other improvements may occur as they are invented or suggested.
We owe much to those who have assisted in the development and presentation of this material. Please see our “Cast & Crew” page. To everyone who appears there, I offer my deepest thanks.
Perhaps you will find something here that will initiate your own research. You might want to have an item considered for inclusion at the site (if so, please contact me). You might wish to correct an error that you find here (if so, by all means contact me). You may even find items that will pique your curiosity and motivate you to seek answers. We hope that this site will bring you closer to the theatrical art form that has proven time and again to be our most beloved: the musical.
Wayne Hamilton, MFA
First On Stage
Cast & Crew

Content Researcher/Author
Wayne Hamilton, MFA

Jim Moore

Opening Graphics
Dan Schletty & Richard Schletty

Content Contributors/Advisors
Bobby Golibart
Gerald F. Muller, DMA
Alan Pickrell, Ph.D.
First On Stage

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First On Stage Interesting Facts and Trivia about Broadway Musicals, Musical History, Musical Theater, People, Performers, and Songs. A collection of historical firsts in American musical theatre. In November of 1997, the Walt Disney organization opened a lyric-stage version of The Lion King at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York. The location would be incidental except for the fact that Disney had also purchased the theatre and given it a loving refurbishment. The building was originally constructed in 1903. To date, The Lion King is the only production that has been mounted there since its reconstruction, but it is Disney's home on Broadway. The Lion King tops Disney's earlier record breaker Beauty and the Beast; the more recent production set a new record for production cost at $15 million. This figure does not include the cost for refurbishing the building. Music for The Lion King was written by rock star Elton John, his first Broadway musical. The lyrics are by Tim Rice. Both the composer and lyricist were nominated for Tony awards, and the show won six Tonys, including Best Musical. It also won the Drama Critics Circle award for Best Musical. As of this writing The Lion King has been performed more than 4,700 times.

Broadway veterans Tim Rice, Elton John and Linda Woolverton collaborated with lyric-stage newcomers Robert Falls and David Henry Hwang to recreate Giuseppi Verdi's Aida. Falls directed and supplied the libretto with Woolverton and Hwang, Rice provided lyrics and John wrote the music. Aida opened in March of 2000 and is presently still running. Messrs. Rice and John won a Tony for the Best Original Musical Score, Heather Headley in the title role won for Best Actress in a Musical, Bob Crowley and Natasha Katz won for Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design respectively. Crowley was also nominated for Best Costume Design.

Ladies and gentlemen, this first selection was randomly generated for your edification and delight!