Theater

Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: January 31

1902 Actor Tallulah Bankhead, who goes on to star in the premieres of The Little Foxes and The Skin of Our Teeth (in addition to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Lifeboat) but is ultimately best-known for her flamboyant personal life, husky voice, and endless bon mots, is born. Valerie Harper earns a Tony Award nomination portraying Bankhead in the 2010 play Looped.

1905 The Woman in the Case is played by Blanche Walsh. She comes to the aid of her husband who is falsely accused of murder. Clyde Fitch‘s drama runs for 89 performances.

1921 Carol Channing is born in Seattle, Washington. The saucer-eyed actor achieves stardom as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but her greatest role is the original Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly!.

1922 The Czarina is Catherine the Great. Her story is told through the eyes of her lover Count Czerny. Doris Keane and Basil Rathbone star. This comedy runs at the Empire Theatre in New York for 136 performances.

1933 English dramatist-novelist John Galsworthy dies in Hampstead, England at age 66. His first play The Silver Box was produced in 1906.

1958 Noël Coward begins a one-week run of his play Present Laughter at the Belasco Theatre, starring opposite Eva Gabor. The production runs in repertory with Coward’s Nude with Violin, which had been running at the same theatre since November 1957. Following the New York runs, the two plays transfer to the West Coast for performances in San Francisco and Hollywood.

1980 Irene Worth is a mysterious woman calling herself The Lady from Dubuque in Edward Albee‘s drama, opening on Broadway at the Morosco Theatre. The play closes after only 12 performances, but is later more successfully revived in productions starring Maggie Smith (West End, 2007) and Jane Alexander (Off-Broadway, 2012).

1985 The story of 19th-century acting team Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart gets the musical treatment in Harrigan ‘n Hart. It gets acclaim as the first musical developed at Goodspeed Opera House’s Norma Terris Theatre, but lasts only 4 performances after its transfer to Broadway. Harry Groener stars with Mark Hammill.

1993 Maryann Plunkett stars in a revival of George Bernard Shaw‘s Saint Joan as part of the National Actors Theatre season at the Lyceum Theatre. Also featured in the cast are Danny Burstein, Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel, and Michael Stuhlbarg.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Jerry J. Cohan (1848-1917). Fritz Leiber (1882-1949). Eddie Cantor (1892-1964). Mario Lanza (1921-1959). Richard Clarke (1933-2005). Philip Glass (b. 1937). Suzanne Pleshette (1937-2008). Jessica Walter (b. 1941). Paul Jabara (1948-1992). Anthony LaPaglia (b. 1959). Danielle Ferland (b. 1971). Kate Shindle (b. 1977). Kerry Washington (b. 1977).

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