Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: January 5


1894 Henrik Ibsen’s American premiere Ghosts, with Ida Jeffries Goodfriend, at the Berkeley Lyceum Theater.

1914 James M. Barrieit is The Legend of Leonore plays at the Empire Theater in New York. maude adams stars in the play about a woman on trial for pushing a man off a train. It is a comedy.

1921 Birthday of a Swiss playwright Friedrich Duerrenmatt, whose best-known work, Visit, was produced on Broadway in 1958 with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, then adapted into a musical by John Kander and Fred Eb.

1925 james gleson and Richard Taber ask Is Zat like that? at the 39th Street Theater. The co-writers star as a depressed boxer and manager who disguise themselves as minions to help a wealthy young man expose his corrupt brother-in-law. The comedy lasts 618 performances.

1928 Elizabeth Scott, 29, wins the architectural design competition for a new Stratford Memorial Theater in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Scott, the only female entrant, incorporates some of the remnants of the burnt-out building, but her Art Deco design breaks with old Victorian tradition.

1939 group theater product Sweet People at the Belasco Theater. Irwin Shawdrama about two men standing up against mafia stars Sam Jaffe, Romain Bohnen, and Your Franchot.

1975 The genius, Charlie Petitsadaptation of The Wizard of Oz, opened at the Majestic Theater and proved to be a sleeper hit, eventually running 1,672 performances and winning the Tony Award for Best Musical. The score includes “If You Believe”, “Be a Lion” and the disco hit “Ease on Down the Road”. Performed with black actors and taking place in an African-American environment, the show proved to be a springboard for the career of Stephanie Mills, who plays Dorothy, and features Tiger Haynes, Battle of Hinton, Ted Ross, Andre DeShields, and Dee Dee Bridgewater in supporting roles. A 1978 film version stars Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

1980 Harold Pinterit is Treason Broadway premieres at the Trafalgar Theatre. Blythe Danner, Raul Julia, and Roy Scheider star of the production directed by Stone Room.

1984 Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close star in Tom Stoppardit is the real thing at the Plymouth Theatre. The piece also features Christine Baransky and Kenneth Welsh. the real thing won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1984, as well as acting awards for Irons, Close and Baranski, and a director’s award Mike Nichols.

1989 Richard Greenbergthe Off-Broadway play, Eastern Standard, transfers from Manhattan Drama Club at the John Golden Theatre. The play examines a group of young achievers who search for the truth about their lives and their loves. Pierre Frechette received a Tony Award nomination in 1989 for his portrayal of Drew Paley.

1990 Arthur Kennedy, who appeared in the original companies of Arthur Millerit is All my sons, Death of a seller, the crucible, and The price, died at age 75.

2003 Pulitzer-winning drama by David Auburn, Proof, closing on Broadway after 917 performances.

2003 Playwright John Kerr dies at age 80. his comedy, Mary, Mary, is one of Broadway’s longest-running non-musicals, with 1,572 performances. She had a bestseller (later adapted into a film and TV series) with Please don’t eat the daisies, a book about her life in Larchmont, New York, with her husband, New York Times theater critic Walter Kerr.

2016 Elizabeth Swados, whose experimental and socially sought-after musical theater plays were a mainstay of theater in 1970s and 1980s New York, dies at 64. His breakout job was the musical Runaways, which ran for eight months on Broadway in 1978 and earned Tony Award nominations for Best Book, Best Score, Best Choreography and Best Direction.

2020 After a run of nearly four years, Waitress is hanging up its Broadway apron for the last time, having played 33 previews and 1,544 regular performances at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Waitress made history as the first Broadway musical to have four women in the top four creative spots: composer Sara Bareilles, writer Jessie Nelson, director Diane Paulus and choreographer Lorin Latarro. Bareilles earned Tony and Grammy nominations for her work on the score.

More birthdays from today: Jack Norworth (1879-1959). Cora Witherpoon (1890-1957). Alvin Aley (1931-1989). Robert Duval (born in 1931). Diane Keaton (born in 1946). bradley cooper (born in 1975).


Throwback to The Wiz on Broadway

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