2003: A ‘Wicked’ Show Opens on Broadway
Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked With of the West (which in turn is based on Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) the Broadway musical Wicked opened at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway on this day in 2003. Unlike the traditional tale of Dorothy in the land of Oz, this show’s tale is told from the point of view of the Galinda the good witch and Elphaba, the wicked witch. Composed by Stephen Schwartz, the show starred Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth and Joel Grey (who played the Wizard). The production won three Tony’s and seven Drama Desk Awards. It is one of the longest running shows on Broadway.
1938: ‘The War of the Worlds’ Causes Widespread Panic
One the world’s most effective radio stunts was performed on this day in 1938 when The Mercury Theatre on the Air performed H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds as a special Halloween episode. The special was directed and narrated by Orson Welles in a way that made the story come alive. So alive in fact that it caused panic among those listening in thinking that Martians had really come to earth with evil intent. A lot of the program was presented in a series of new bulletins that stated an explosion took place on Mars while a strange object fell from the sky and landed on a farm in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. Adding to the illusion was fact that the special did not take time out for commercials during the broadcast. Although some research has shown that the panic wasn’t as widespread as previously reported, it still marks an amazing, if not misguided, feat in radio.
- 1735: John Adams (2nd President of the U.S.)
- 1893: Charles Atlas (bodybuilder)
- 1945: Henry Winkler (actor)
- 1951: Harry Hamlin (actor)
- 1978: Matthew Morrison (actor)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.