Theater

Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: February 1

1859 Birthday of Broadway’s operetta king Victor Herbert, composer of Babes in Toyland, The Red Mill, Mlle. Modiste, Naughty Marietta, Sweethearts, and numerous editions of the Ziegfeld Follies.

1904 Birthday of playwright, screenwriter, and wit S. J. Perelman, whose Broadway efforts include The Beauty Part and the libretto to One Touch of Venus.

1909 When her father’s will stipulates that his daughter must marry a graduate of Bingham College, she becomes The Fair Co-Ed. Elsie Janis stars as the only female student enrolled, helping her fiancé make the grade. George Ade provides the music and lyrics, Gustav Luders the score.

1942 In Of V We Sing, the V stands for victory in World War II. Co-produced by Alexander Cohen and the American Youth Theatre, the timely show hosts songs, sketches, and some lively jitterbugging. The cast includes Betty Garrett, Phil Leeds, and Daniel Nagrin.

1961 Tallulah Bankhead plays a 50-year-old woman who leaves her dismissive family, disguises herself as an 80-year-old woman, and becomes a babysitter in Midgie Purvis. The play by Mary Chase is directed by Burgess Meredith at the Martin Beck theatre.

1967 The Deer Park, Norman Mailer’s adaptation of his novel, stars Rip Torn, Gene Lindsey, and Marsha Mason. Leo Garen directs the show at Theatre de Lys.

1968 Iris Murdoch and James Saunders adapt Murdoch’s novel The Italian Girl for the stage. Richard Pasco and Elizabeth Sellars lead the cast and Val May stages. It runs in London at Wyndham’s Theatre.

1968 A Day in the Death of Joe Egg opens at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, starring Albert Finney, Joan Hickson, and Zena Walker, the latter winning a Tony Award for her performance. Michael Blakemore directs the Peter Nichols play.

2002 A settlement is announced between producer Scott Rudin and composer Stephen Sondheim over ownership of the musical Wise Guys, since retitled Bounce, that allows its 2003 premiere at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre to go forward. When the musical finally opens in New York in 2008, it has yet another new title: Road Show.

2003 First performance of Radiant Baby, an Off-Broadway musical about late pop artist Keith Haring at the Public Theater‘s Newman space. George C. Wolfe directs the production, which features lyrics by Ira Gasman, Stuart Ross, and Debra Barsha, book by Ross, and score by Barsha.

2004 Film star Isabella Rossellini stars with Richard Thomas in the world premiere of Terrence McNally‘s The Stendhal Syndrome, which begins performances at Primary Stages‘ new home, 59E59.

2011 The Whipping Man, Matthew Lopez’s historical drama about a Confederate Jewish solider returning home to his former slaves, who are also Jewish, opens Off-Broadway in a Manhattan Theatre Club production directed by Tony winner Douglas Hughes. Jay Wilkison, André Holland, and Andre Braugher star.

2018 The world premiere of Terrence McNally‘s Fire and Air, exploring the history behind Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, opens Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company. Douglas Hodge stars as Diaghilev opposite James Cusati-Moyer as dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. The cast also includes Marin Mazzie, John Glover, Jay Armstrong Johnson, and Marsha Mason.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Henry Miller (1859–1926), Charlton Andrews (1878–1939), Herman Hupfeld (1894–1951), James P. Johnson (1894–1955), Clark Gable (1901–1960), Langston Hughes (1902–1967), Helen Chandler (1906–1965), Albert R. Johnson (1910–1967), Garrett Morris (b. 1937), Sherman Hemsley (1938–2012), Leo Burmester (1944–2007), Michael C. Hall (b. 1971)

Flip through photos from the 2008 Off-Broadway production of Road Show:

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