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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. Fiddler on the Roof opened in September of 1964 with a libretto by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. A solid hit, the show compiled a run of 3,242 performances, breaking the recently set record of Hello, Dolly!. Fiddler won the Tony and the Drama Critics Circle awards for Best Musical, along with eight additional Tonys. The cast included Zero Mostel, Beatrice Arthur and Bert Convy. Future film and TV star Adrienne Barbeau made her Broadway debut as a replacement player during the long run. Popular songs introduced in the show included "If I Were A Rich Man," and "Sunrise, Sunset."

Grease opened in February of 1972. This show had a more retro rock sound than recent predecessors because it was set in the 1950s. Songs that received some radio airplay outside the theatre include "You're The One That I Want," "Summer Nights" and "Greased Lightning." Music, lyrics and libretto were by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, their first Broadway musical. Along with six other Tony nominations, Jacobs and Casey were nominated for a Tony award for Best Book. The cast included Adrienne Barbeau, who won the Theatre World award, Jeff Conaway (1950-2011) and Barry Bostwick; Bostwick was later replaced by John Travolta, who made his Broadway debut in Grease. The show ran for almost 3,400 performances.

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