Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: February 16

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1898 Birthday of the great lady and Broadway producer Katharine Cornell, who stars in and / or produces A Bill of Divorcement, The Age of Innocence, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Alien Corn, Jezebel, Saint Joan, The Wingless Victory, No Time for Comedy, Candida, and Dear liar.

1956 Eric Machwitz and Hy Kraft write the book and Bernard Grun arranges the music for Antonin Dvorak for Summer song. The musical deals with the composer’s stay in America. Charles Hickman is leading the 19 week race at the Prince’s Theater in London.

1959 Gertrude Berg plays a Jewish mother who charms a Japanese widower (Cedric Hardwicke) in A majority of one. Leonard Spigelgass’ comedy premiered at the Shubert Theater, then Barrymore Theater, for a total of 556 performances.

1960 Sidney Lumet conducts Caligula at the 54th Street Theater in New York. Albert Camus’ vision of the Roman Emperor is accompanied by music composed by David Amram. It lasts 38 performances.

1964 Comedian Bert Lahr has his final Broadway opening night at Cunning, a musical based on that of Ben Johnson Volpone, but moved into the California Gold Rush. Lyrics are from Johnny Mercer. Larry Blyden and young John Davidson are also part of the cast. The show, which was tried out at a remote Canadian mining operation, only manages a series of 72 performances at the Ziegfeld Theater.

1965 Sherlock Holmes musical opening night Baker street at the Broadway Theater, with Fritz Weaver as detective, Inga Swenson as lover and Martin Gabel as Moriarty. He performs 311 performances.

1977 The success of three inane thieves for a major score is the starting point for American buffalo. Robert Duvall, Kenneth McMillan and John Savage travel through the drama that marks David Mamet’s Broadway debut. It takes place at the Ethel Barrymore Theater for 122 performances.

1989 Pauline Collins stars on Broadway at the Booth Theater as Shirley valentine. Willy Russell’s single-character play won a Tony nomination for Best Play, while its star won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award.

2002 The controversial play by Edward Albee The goat or who is Sylvia? premieres at Golden Theater. Bill Pullman and Mercedes Ruehl star in the drama about a man whose attraction to the title ungulate destroys his marriage. He won the Tony Award for Best Play later that year.

2007 Sheridan Morley, a larger-than-life London theater critic, longtime Playbill author and writer, dies in his sleep at the age of 65 in his London home.

2011 After their Broadway production in 2009 Take out the king, Australian theater company Belvoir returns to New York with an adaptation by Nikolai Gogol Diary of a Madman, with Geoffrey Rush. Performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the production reunites Rush with his Take out the king director Neil Armfield.

2012 Shatner’s world: we just live there, with Star Trek star William Shatner, opens at the Music Box Theater on Broadway. The solo exhibition takes the audience on a journey through Shatner’s life and career, from Shakespearean theater actor to internationally renowned icon and storyteller.

2017 The American premiere of Wallace Shawn Evening at the Talk House opens Off-Broadway at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theater. The play about the 10th anniversary celebration of an “underrated theatrical masterpiece” stars playwright Shawn opposite Matthew Broderick, Jill Eikenberry and Claudia Shear.

More birthdays today: Guillaume Le Baron (1883-1958). Albert Hackett (1900-1995). Vera-Ellen (1921-1981). Gretchen Wyler (1932-2007). Brian Bedford (1935-2016). Maria Björnson (1949-2002). John Tartaglia (born 1978).

Watch “Obsessed!” by Seth Rudetsky interview with John Tartaglia:


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