'The Black Crook', 1866 Noble Sissle (1889-1975) and Eubie Blake (1887-1983)

TLW's Broadwayscope™ (Broadway Historyscope)

By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™

© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.

Original Pub. Date: Aug. 5, 2015. Last Update: Nov. 30, 2016.

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What Is A Historyscope?

Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to Broadway history. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.

The Broadway Theater District along Broadway in Manhattan, N.Y. currently consists of 40 500+-seat theaters, which in 2014 sold $1.36B in tickets to 13.13M buyers; most Broadway shows are musicals.

'The Black Crook', 1866

On Sept. 12, 1866 Charles M. Barras', Theodore Kennick's, and Thomas Baker's The Black Crook debuts at 3.2K-seat Niblo's Garden (474 perf.), becoming the first Broadway musical; set in 1600 in the Harz Mts. of Germany, it's about evil Count Wolfenstein, who woos village girl Amina from her fiance Rodolph by having his servant Hertzog make a pact with the Devil, only to be saved by Fairy Queen Stalacta; The Black Domino/Between You, Me and the Post debuts in 1866, becoming the first Broadway musical comedy.

Will Marion Cook (1869-1944) Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) Jesse Allison Shipp Sr. (1864-1934)

On Feb. 18, 1903 Will Marion Cook (1869-1944), Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), and Jesse Allison Shipp Sr. (1864-1934) debut In Dahomey: A Musical Comedy in New York Theater in New York City for 53 perf., becoming the first full-length musical written and played by blacks to be performed at a major Broadway house; two Boston con men devise a plan to colonize you know what; ends with a spectacular cakewalk.

Noble Sissle (1889-1975) and Eubie Blake (1887-1983)

On May 23, 1921 Baltimore, Md.-born pianist-composer James Hubert "Eubie" Blake (1887-1983) and Indianapolis, Ind.-born jazz composer-playwright Noble Sissle (1889-1975) debut their jazz musical Shuffle Along on Broadway at Daly's 63rd St. Theatre, dir. by Walter Brooks, running for 484 perf. (until July 15, 1922), becoming the first major Broadway production in over a decade written, produced, and performed entirely by African-Ams., and the first black love story, with blacks not restricted to balcony seats; makes stars of Josephine Baker, Adelaide Hall (as Jazz Jasmine), Florence Mills (as Ruth Little), Fredi Washington, Roger Matthews (as Harry Walton), and Paul Robeson, causing "curtain time traffic jams" on 63rd St; about corrupt politicians Sam and Steve, who run for mayor in Jimtown and agree to appoint the loser as chief of police, until virtuous Harry Walton wins the next election and runs them out of town; makes the observation that the lighter an African-Am. woman's skin is, the more desirable she is; features I'm Just Wild About Harry (adopted by Harry Truman for his pres. campaign theme), Love Will Find a Way. (In) Honeysuckle Time, Shuffle Along Overture, If You Haven't Been Vamped by a Brownskin, You Haven't Been Vamped at All, I'm Simply Full of Jazz, and Bandana Days; after leaving New York City it becomes the first black musical to play in white theaters across the U.S., while opening up Broadway to black actors, although only plots portraying blacks as half-civilized become acceptable.

On Nov. 24, 1951 after writer Colette personally picks her for the part, Audrey Hepburn makes her stage debut in Gigi at the Fulton Theatre (219 perf.), adapted by Anita Loos.

In 1960 Back Stage (Backstage) weekly mag., ed. by Ira Eaker (1921-2002) and Allen Zwerdling (1922-2009) begins pub. in New York City, becoming a must-read for stage and movie actors looking for work, zooming from 10K to 32K copies/week; in 1994 they found "Back Stage West" for readers in Los Angeles, Calif., reaching 24K copies/week; in 1986 it is acquired by Billboard Pubs.

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