Show Business: Broadway Birthday

George Abbott turns 100 -- Yes, 100!

Unaccustomed to such a hands-on director, the actors at Cleveland's Great Lakes Theater Festival were perplexed at first, afraid that the boss might stifle their creativity. "I should have heard those lines, and I didn't," was his constant complaint during rehearsals of Broadway, a melodrama he had first directed in 1926. But then they remembered the name behind that stern voice. "Hey," said one young actor, "this is George Abbott! We know it's going to work."

At that moment the Cleveland company became students in what has been called the George Abbott University, an institution whose graduates include Gene Kelly, Shirley...