1882 Birthday of John Barrymore, actor in the grand style and descendant of the Barrymore acting clan. Although he started out as a light comedian, he identified with the classics, in particular Hamlet.
1921 Laurette Taylor stars in a revival of one of the great hits of the early 1920s, peg o’ my heart, J. Hartley Manners‘ is about an Irish farmer who inherits a fortune, but has to give up everything she loves to get it. It organizes 88 performances at the Cort Theatre.
1968 George C. Scott and Maureen Stapleton starred in a trio of one-act comedies from neil simoncollectively titled Square Suite. It has 1,097 performances and is followed by several other pieces by Simon “Suite”, including Californian Suite and Suite London.
1972 What are the chances of a little rock musical about a high school summer romance spilling over into the school year? Pretty good, apparently. Fat opens in New York, riding a wave of 1950s nostalgia that makes it (briefly) the longest-running show in Broadway history (3,388 performances). It is followed by a film version which becomes one of the most successful musicals and soundtracks of all time.
1975 PG Wodehousecollaborator of Guy Bolton on musical books such as Miss Spring and Oh man! (with a rating of Jerome Kern), died at the age of 93. In 1928, he wrote the lyrics to The three Musketeers. Wodehouse’s short stories and novels about Bertie Wooster and the all-knowing servant Jeeves inspired a number of stage and film works.
1998 Eve Enslerthe award-winning piece The Vagina Monologues gets a star-reading to benefit breast cancer research in an event called “V-Day.” This is the first in an annual series of Valentine’s Day readings from the play that highlight a range of women’s issues, particularly violence against women. In less than a decade, the event, dubbed “Victory Against Violence Day,” has spread to more than a thousand cities around the world.
2009 John McGlinn, conductor and music archivist who devoted himself to researching and recording restored scores of early works of American musical theatre, dies at 55.
2016 The world premiere of Chazz Palminteri A Bronx Tale The Musical, with a score by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, opens at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. The production moved to Broadway later that year.
More birthdays from today: Jack Benny (1894-1974). Nigel Bruce (1895-1953). Thelma Ritter (1902-1969). Florence Henderson (1934-2016). [Raymond Joseph] Teller (born in 1948). Laurie Kennedy (born in 1948). Renée Fleming (born in 1959). Danai Gurira (born in 1978).
Watch highlights from the 2016 Paper Mill Playhouse production of A Bronx Tale The Musical: