1948 was a banner year for Broadway shows in New York, with some of the world’s favorite plays and musicals debuting in 1948. Almost all of these popular plays and musicals were made into films at some point, which indicates just how popular they were (and still are) with Broadway audiences. Some of the most popular 1948 Broadway shows include:
This comedy opened on Broadway in February 1948, and starred Henry Fonda as Lieutenant Roberts, the beleaguered junior grade officer on board a cargo ship during the Second World War. Roberts wants to get off the ship and do some actual fighting, but the tyrannical captain won’t sign his orders and let him go. This classic comedy was made into a film also starring Fonda, as well, along with James Cagney as the belligerent captain.
Anthony and Cleopatra
This classic Shakespearean play came to Broadway as a tragic drama, and played 126 shows before it closed. Staying true to the play, the drama showed the love affair between the beautiful Egyptian queen and the Roman soldier, and included a young Charlton Heston in a minor role as a soldier. It was made into a very famous film starring the then couple Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
This uber-classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical is still beloved today, and it ran for over 5 years on Broadway. The love story between Curly and Laurey is at the heart of this musical, but the comedy, dancing, and acting also won it rave reviews. It was made into a motion picture in 1955 that is still a classic in musical innovation and adaptation today.
Summer and Smoke
The master playwright Tennessee Williams wrote “Summer and Smoke” about a southern minister’s daughter at the turn of the 20th century. Lonely and naïve, she is courted by a boy she loved in her childhood, a doctor who is wild, unmanageable, and totally her opposite. This tragic drama was made into a film in 1961, and it played 102 performances in 1948 through 1949, and was revived several times throughout the years on Broadway.
Anne of the Thousand Days
This memorable drama tells the story of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his wife who he had beheaded because she failed to give him the heir he desired, and he believed was having an affair. Veteran actor Rex Harrison played Henry on the stage, and this, like many other popular 1948 Brodway shows, was made into a film in 1969.
Kiss Me Kate
This remake of a Shakespeare play (The Taming of the Shrew) into a musical debuted on Broadway on Dec. 30, 1948, making it the last show to open that year. Cole Porter wrote the music and lyrics for the show, which may be one reason it remained on Broadway for nearly three years. It is actually a play within a play that follows the production of a musical while following the producer. The musical was made into a film in 1953.
Some of the most well known and beloved of all shows were 1948 Brodway shows, and many of them still live on today, still beloved on Broadway.