Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: January 10

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1820 Birthday of Louisa Lane Drew, matriarch of the Drew and Barrymore acting dynasty which would eventually include John Drew, Ethel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore and today’s Drew Barrymore.

1904 Ray Bolger was born. The Triple Threat appears in many shows and in 1948 stars in Where is Charlie?, the musical version of Charley’s aunt. A yellow brick road stretches before him in Hollywood.

1910 musical comedy star Peggy Wood made his New York debut in The old Town at the Globe Theatre. Wood appears later in several Cowardly Christmas plays, including the New York premiere of joyful spirit.

1911 Sigmund Romberg wrote his first complete Broadway score for The whirlwind of the world, which opens to the Winter Garden. A brochure describes it as “An island of beauty, fun and music, surrounded entirely by girls”. The formula proves to be a winner, running 161 performances.

1929 Elmer Rice catch a street scene at the Playhouse Theater in New York. The austere apartment building drama won the Pulitzer Prize and ran to 601 performances. In 1947, it was transformed into a musical with a score by Kurt Well and the words of the poet Langston Hughes.

1941 Two kind old ladies help nudge melancholy people towards a better world in macabre comedy Arsenic and old lace which opens its run of 1,444 performances at the Fulton Theatre. John Adair and Josephine Hull play sisters and Boris Karloff plays their nephew.

1947 Ella Logan and Albert Sharp watch the rainbow in the musical by Fred Saidy, Burton Lane and Yip Harburg Finian’s Rainbow, about a leprechaun who becomes human when his pot of gold is stolen and buried near Fort Knox. It has 725 performances. david wayne and Michael Kidd won the first-ever Tony Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Choreographer, respectively.

1962 Romulus, satirizing the end of the Roman Empire, has a much shorter lifespan than its subject, with only 69 performances on its schedule. Gore Vidal adapted the Friedrich Durrenmatt job. Cyril Ritchard stars.

1968 Some of the first openly gay characters seen on the Broadway stage are played by Milo O’Shea and Eli Wallach in Charles Dyerit is Stairs, which holds 61 performances at the Biltmore Theatre.

2000 dirty blonde, written by and performed by Claudia Shear, opens to New York Theater Workshop. It lasts 40 performances before being transferred to the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway.

2005 Composer Cy Coleman, who died the previous November, is commemorated in a star-studded memorial service at the Majestic Theatre. Speakers include employees neil simon, David Zipel, A. E. Hotchner, and Wendy Wasserstein. Among the historical performances are Chita Rivera and Ann Reinking performing “Big Spender” by Sweet Charity, and Lucie Arnaz and daughter Katharine Luckinbill duet on “Hey, Look Me Over”, a song first sung by Arnaz’s mother Lucille Ball in Wild cat.

2008 A stage adaptation of the Disney animated film The little Mermaid opens at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater. It features the original music from the film by Alain Menken and the end Howard Ashman, plus ten new songs by Menken and Glenn Slater. Francesca Zambello leads a cast led by Sierra Bogges like Ariel the mermaid, and Sherie Rene Scott like Ursula, the sprawling sea witch. It has 685 performances.

2013 The Broadway premiere of The other place, Sharr whitethe mysterious play featuring Laurie Metcalf as a medical researcher whose health, family life and workplace are shaken, open to Manhattan Drama ClubSamuel J. Friedman Theater.

More birthdays from today: Francois X. Bushman (1883-1966). Florence Roseau (1883-1967). Polly Rowle (1914-2001). Sal Mineo (1939-1976). James Rabbit (born in 1949). Evan Handler (born in 1961).

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Throwback to The Little Mermaid on Broadway


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