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Dear Playbill...
Dear PLAYBILL: Is it true that Tony Awards were once given to conductors of musical comedies?
-Aram Debagian
Bradentown, FL
That's correct. There was a Tony Award in that category from 1948 (Max Meth won for conducting Finian's Rainbow) until 1964 when Shepard Coleman was honored for conducting Hello, Dolly!
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Dear PLAYBILL: Which is the oldest known legitimate theatre in the U.S.?
-Gabe, Arpaia
Hamden, CT
According to Documents of American Theater History by William C. Young, the first kown playhouse in the U.S. was built in 1716 in Williamsburg, Virginia. The remains of the foundations of this theatre were excavated in 1947.
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Dear PLAYBILL: Articles about Jerome Robbins' Broadway often mentions that some of the dance sequences were recreated through "Labanotation." Because of my last name -Laba-I would like to know where that name comes from?
-Laurie Ann Laba
Sudbury, MA
"Labanotation"-the system for notating dance on paper-derives from the man who invented this system in 1928: Rudolf von Laban. There is another widely used system for dance notation called Benesh-notation invented by Rudolf Benesh, in 1955. Today, with the advent of video-taping, that system has proven the mostprecise for preserving dance works.
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Dear PLAYBILL:  The recent inquiry in "Dear PLAYBILL" regarding the use of black and white sets and costumes in City of Angels to represent film photography reminded me of the famous first act finale in the Irving Berlin/Moss Hart revue As Thousands Cheer in 1933. The sequence was based on the then popular rotogravure section of a Sunday newspaper which featured photographs in tones of tan and brown. The song was "Easter Parade," and the set and costumes were entirely in sepia as the entire cast sang, "You'll find that you're int he rotogravure."
--Walter Briehl
Middle Village, NY
Thank you for this interesting information. Back in 1934, the Shuberts announced that they planned to produce a new Ziegfield Follies all in white. This proposed revue evolved into the hit Life Begins at 8:40, but the idea of an all-white d├ęcor and costumes was abandoned.
DEAR PLAYBILL: I am interested in obtaining compilation of every musical that has been produced on and Off-Broadway. Where can I acquire such a listing?
--Chris Ruggere
Medford Lakes, NJ
Your best bet is to acquire Gerald Bordman's epic work: American Musical Theatre--A Chronical (Oxford University Press, 1978). This indispensable work covers every operetta, musical, revue, etc., produced in New York from The Black Crook in 1866 to 1985's Big River. Shows are listed chronologically, season by season, with such information as the opening date, theatre, length of run and a fascinating description of the show's plot, authors, stars, etc.

DEAR PLAYBILL:  I recently saw the excellent revival of Gypsy at the St. James Theatre. My friend insists that the original 1959 production of this musical ended with the number "Rose's Turn." I recall that after "Rose's Turn" there was a reconciliation scene between Ethel Merman and Sandra Church. Who's right?
--J.A. Rafferty
New York, NY
You're right. The current revival ends the same way as the original production.

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