Friday, February 24, 2012

The Past Week In Theatre History (Feb.20 - Feb. 24)

The Past Week In Theatre History: February 20 - 24

By Robert Viagas, David Gewirtzman,
Ernio Hernandez and Anne Bradley

1876    Birthday of Broadway comedian Victor Moore (1876-1962), who starred or co-starred in the original casts of many musical comedies, notably Of Thee I Sing, Anything Goes, Louisiana Purchase, Leave It to Me! and Oh, Kay!.

1879    John Wellington Wells deals his magic and spells for the first time on Broadway with the American premiere of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer at the old Broadway Theatre.

1893    Birthday of playwright and producer Russel Crouse (1893-1966), whose prodigious output of scripts, many in partnership with Howard Lindsay, includes State of the Union and The Great Sebastians, librettos to The Sound of Music, Call Me Madam and Anything Goes, and the play that is still the longest-running non-musical in Broadway history, Life With Father.

1917     When newlyweds must hide their marriage - Oh, Boy! Guy Bolton and P.G.Wodehouse collaborate on this musical, and Jerome Kern scores. Hit song: "Till the Clouds Roll By."

1925    Birthday of costume designer Patricia Zipprodt who created the clothes for many Broadway classics, including Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, 1776, Pippin, Chicago, Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods.

1930    Birthday of Marni Nixon, singer whose voice will be dubbed into the mouths of better-known performers, including Natalie Wood in the film of West Side Story. She will make her Broadway debut in 1954's The Girl in Pink Tights, and not return to Broadway until James Joyce's The Dead in 2000. Other recent apperances include revivals of Follies and Nine.

1930    Tom Powers stars as a King who threatens to abdicate and upset The Apple Cart. George Bernard Shaw penned this comedy, which will run for 11 weeks at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York. The cast includes Claude Rains and Morris Carnovsky. Philip Moeller provides the direction.

1934    Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson collaborate on an unusual Broadway "opera," Four Saints in Three Acts, which runs 48 performances at the 44th Street Theatre.

1955    Ninotchka slips into Silk Stockings at the Imperial Theatre. The transformation into a musical is the handiwork of Cole Porter, George S. Kaufman, Leueen MacGrath Kaufman and Abe Burrows. Hildegarde Neff and Don Ameche star. Cy Feuer stages the 478 performance run.

1958    Legendary flop musical Portofino gives the first of its three performances at the Adelphi Theatre. Helen Gallagher stars in the show, written by Louis Bellson, Will Irwin, Richard Ney and Sheldon Harnick.

1960    The Dublin Gate Theatre will hear Chimes at Midnight. Orson Welles directs his adaptation of Shakespeare and Holinshead.

1961     The Changeling by Middleton and Rowley is revived for the first time since the 17th century. London's Royal Court production stars Robert Shaw, Mary Ure and Zoe Caldwell. Tony Richardson directs.

1961     Opening night of Come Blow Your Horn, Neil Simon's first full-length Broadway comedy. it will run 677 performances at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

1966    Sybil Thorndike and Athene Seyler are the poisoning sisters in Joseph Kesselring's Arsenic and Old Lace. The production is revived at London's Vaudeville Theatre.

1967    MacBird! is Barbara Garson's parodic melding of Macbeth and Lyndon Johnson's presidency. It will run 386 performances at the Village Gate Theatre. Stacy Keach and Rue McClanahan are among the cast.

1973    Demonstrating the difference in sensibilities between London and New York, the farce No Sex Please, We're British, opens at Broadway's Ritz Theatre today en route to a 16-performance flop run. The London original will continue for a run of 6,761 performances, their longest-running comedy ever.

1976    Actress Frieda Inescourt dies today. After a British debut, she appeared in sophisticated Broadway comedies such as You and I by Philip Barry. She was 75 years old.

1978    Jeremy Irons and Simon Ward are directed by Harold Pinter in The Rear Column. Simon Gray's drama depicting British soldiers on a special mission in Africa will run 44 performances at London's Globe Theatre.

1980    Brian Clark's Whose Life is it Anyway?, which saw a production at the Trafalgar Theatre (now the Nederlander) in 1979, returns to Broadway for another production at the Royale Theatre. The play originally starred actor Tom Conti but was then revised for actress Mary Tyler Moore.

1983    Legendary Broadway flop Moose Murders opens -- and closes the same night. Arthur Bicknell's farce is set at a run-down ski lodge decorated with numerous moose heads.

1991     Neil Simon preserves his stronghold on Broadway as Lost in Yonkers opens at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The Tony- and Pulitzer-winning comedy/drama stars Mercedes Ruehl, Irene Worth and Kevin Spacey.

1998    The Broadway revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I that opened April 11, 1996, closes at the Neil Simon Theatre. The King and Anna were played by Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy, then Kevin Gray and Faith Prince, before adding Marie Osmond prior to the close. Following the lead of the original, which won the Tony for Best Musical in 1952, this production took home the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.

2002    Elaine Stritch opens her solo show, Elaine Stritch: At Liberty at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre. The show will go on to win the 2002 Tony Award as Best Special Event.

2003    First Off-Broadway performance for the puppet/human musical Avenue Q at the Vineyard Theatre. The show by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty will earn raves, move to Broadway and win the Tony Award as Best Musical.

2004   John Randolph, the accomplished character actor whose career include Broadway collaborations with Orson Welles and the Lunts, as well as a Tony Award-winning performance as cranky, opinionated grandfather Ben in Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, dies at age 88.

2005    Trude Rittmann, 96, the respected dance and vocal arranger for Broadway artists Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe, Irving Berlin, Jerome Robbins and Agnes de Mille, dies of of respiratory failure.

2005    Also today, Heath Lamberts, 63, the character actor and farceur known for many classic roles in major North American theatres, as well as for creating Cogsworth in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, dies of cancer.

2006   Don Knotts, 81, the TV, film and stage actor who capitalized on a persona of the nervous, bumbling boob in "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Three's Company," Feb. 24 of pulmonary and respiratory complications at U.C.L.A. Medical Center in Beverly Hills. He appeared on Broadway with Griffith in No Time for Sergeants.

2007    Janet Blair, 85, who began her life as singer and then turned to acting in films such as "My Sister Eileen" and major tours of shows such as South Pacific and Mame, dies from complications of pneumonia at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica.

2008   The Menier Chocolate Factory's hit London production of Sunday in the Park With George, comes to Studio 54 with London leads Daniel Evans as George and Jenna Russell as Dot. Directed by Sam Buntrock, the production is notable for the use of animated drawings (designed by Timothy Bird) to illustrate the progress of the painting that forms the show's centerpiece.

This Week’s Birthdays:  James Kirkwood (Sr.) 1875.  Sheldon Leonard 1907.  Jules Munshin 1915.  Abe Vigoda 1921.  Sidney Poitier 1924.  Robert Altman 1925.   Shelley Berman 1926.  Michel Legrand 1932.  Rue McClanahan 1935.  James Farentino 1938.  Peter Fonda 1939.  Jenny O'Hara 1942.  David Geffen 1943.  Tyne Daly 1946.  Alan Rickman 1946.  Barry Bostwick 1946.  Sandy Duncan 1946.  Rupert Holmes 1947.  Christine Ebersole 1953.  Kelsey Grammer 1955.  Andréa Burns 1971.  Robert Lopez 1975.  Lauren Ambrose 1978.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that happen this week in theatre history, that post would be WAY longer than this one. To see more check out the "Today in Theatre History" blog posts on


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More