Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 1

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 1
Debbie Reynolds in Irene.
Debbie Reynolds in Irene.

1918 Actor-manager Henry Miller opens his theatre in New York City. It's designed to seat 1,000 spectators and capable of handling the latest staging innovations. In 1998 the theatre is renamed the Kit Kat Klub for a revival of Cabaret, and in 2010 it is renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

1926 Actor Jacob P. Adler, 71, dies in New York City. He was a major force in Yiddish theatre and was manager of the Grand Theatre in New York for a number of years. His children, Luther Adler and Stella Adler, both grow up to act and influence the theatre community.

1928 Actor George Grizzard is born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. He plays Nick in the Broadway premiere of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and wins a Tony Award for his performance as Tobias in the 1996 Broadway revival of A Delicate Balance.

1932 Birthday of actor Debbie Reynolds, who stars in the film musical Singin' in the Rain, and make her Broadway debut in 1973 with Irene.

1941 Eight months before Pearl Harbor, Lillian Hellman predicts that America will be drawn into World War II in her drama Watch on the Rhine, which runs 378 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre.

1943 The Ziegfeld Follies of 1943 is buoyed by the antics of Milton Berle. The revue runs 553 performances at the Winter Garden in New York.

1975 In a bit of theatre verite, We Interrupt This Program... enacts the seizure of a Broadway theatre by terrorists. Audiences laughed at the time, and Norman Krasna's drama ran just 7 performances at the Ambassador Theatre.

1993 Putting It Together, a revue based on Stephen Sondheim's work by Julia McKenzie and the composer himself, plays at the Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center. Julie Andrews, Christopher Durang, Stephen Collins, Michael Rupert, and Rachel York help sell out the house. A few years later, Broadway sees a revised version, with Carol Burnett starring.

1999 The Broadway production of Conor McPherson's ghost-haunted The Weir opens at the Walter Kerr Theatre. The Olivier Award-winning Irish drama plays 277 performances on Broadway, but is absent from the Tony Awards nominations.

2001 London import Stones in His Pockets opens on Broadway. In it, two Irish actors embody an entire Irish town as an American film company arrives to capture local color for a movie.

2001 At first, all we knew was the odd title: future Broadway smash Urinetown makes its Off-Off-Broadway debut in a 120-seat space at the American Theatre of Actors.

2004 April Fool's Day ushers in one of the great prankster stories in theatre literature. Richard Dreyfuss stars in a revival of Larry Gelbart's comedy Sly Fox based on Ben Jonson's Volpone.

2010 Red, John Logan's biographical play that frames a moment in the life of abstract-impressionist painter Mark Rothko, opens on Broadway at the Golden Theatre. Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne star.

2012 The second Broadway revival of The Best Man, Gore Vidal's 1960 play about two candidates seeking their party's nomination for the U.S. presidential election, opens at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Michael Wilson directs an ensemble that includes James Earl Jones, John Larroquette, Candice Bergen, Eric McCormack, Jefferson Mays, Kerry Butler, Michael McKean, and Angela Lansbury.

2013 Tom Hanks portrays late Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Mike McAlary in the Broadway premiere of Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy. George C. Wolfe directs the fast-paced drama that takes audiences into the newsrooms of New York City's tabloid newspapers.

Also Born on This Date: Laurette Taylor 1884. Wallace Beery 1885. Jane Powell 1929.

Watch highlights from the 2013 Broadway production of Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy, starring Tom Hanks:

LOVE THEATRE? CHECK OUT PLAYBILL STORE FOR MERCHANDISE!