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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. A musical by John Kander (music) and Fred Ebb (lyrics) called Steel Pier opened in April of 1997. The libretto was written by David Thompson. The male lead was played by Gregory Harrison, his first appearance on Broadway as an original cast member (he made his Broadway debut as a replacement player in Chicago a few months earlier). Harrison is famous for his portrayal of Gonzo Gates in the TV series Trapper John. Steel Pier was also the debut show for Kirsten Chenoweth. The show ran for only 76 performances. Despite the short run, Steel Pier was nominated for eleven Tony awards. Steel Pier was conceived by Scott Ellis, who had come to New York as a performer after starring in dinner-theatre productions in Washington, DC and Philadelphia. Ellis debuted on Broadway as an actor in 1980, but in 1993 got his break as a director, which has since been his focus. In addition to developing Steel Pier, Ellis has directed a remarkable number of Broadway revivals and is Associate Artistic Director of the Roundabout Theatre Company. With more than thirty Broadway production credits, he has been nominated for three Tony awards. Ellis has frequently collaborated with award-winning choreographer and director Susan Stroman who, along with David Thompson, co-conceived Steel Pier with Ellis.

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