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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. John Houseman created The Acting Company with the first graduates of the Drama Division at Juilliard in 1972. Their first original Broadway musical was The Robber Bridegroom, which opened in October of 1975. With a book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry and music by Robert Waldman, it ran a scant 14 performances. However, the cast included future film star Kevin Kline, future Broadway star Patti LuPone and future member of the Guthrie company Richard Ooms. A year later, Houseman re-opened the show with a different cast that played for 145 performances.

Parade was a musical with a dark subject, the 1913 lynching of a New York Jewish man in Georgia. Harold Prince, who had been involved with other dark-side musicals (Sweeney Todd, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Phantom of the Opera) and Alfred Uhry conceived the show; Prince directed and Uhry wrote the libretto. Jason Robert Brown wrote his first Broadway score for Parade, and won a Tony Award in his first outing. Uhry won a Tony for Best Book of a Musical. Uhry is the only American writer to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Driving Miss Daisy, 1988), an Academy Award (for his adaptation of the screenplay of Driving Miss Daisy, 1989) and a Tony Award. In addition to receiving a Tony for Parade, Uhry had also won a Tony in 1997 for his straight play titled The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Performers Carolee Carmello and Brent Carver were nominated for Tony awards, as was choreographer Patricia Birch. The show also won the Drama Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards for Best Musical. Parade opened in December of 1998 and ran for 85 performances.

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