Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 12

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: April 12
Faith Prince as Ella Peterson in <i>Bells Are Ringing</i>.
Faith Prince as Ella Peterson in Bells Are Ringing.

1905 The colossal Hippodrome Theatre opens on Broadway. The inaugural production is the colorful extravaganza A Yankee Circus on Mars. It runs 176 performances.

1943 Birthday of Charles Ludlum (1943-1987) outrageous playwright (The Mystery of Irma Vep and many others), performer, director, and founder of the Off-Off-Broadway Ridiculous Theatrical Company.

1944 In The Searching Wind, playwright Lillian Hellman ponders some of the causes of World War II. The cast includes Dudley Digges, Cornelia Otis Skinner, and Montgomery Clift. This drama runs nearly ten months at the Fulton Theatre in New York.

1959 Actor, playwright, and producer James Gleason dies in Woodland Hills, California at age 73. With George Abbott he wrote the comedy The Fall Guy.

1975 Performer Josephine Baker dies at age 68. Leaving America at a time when black performers rarely broke free from falsely stereotyped roles, she became a tremendous success in Paris with the Folies-Bergere.

1978 London's National Theatre has Plenty. David Hare's play comes to life with Kate Nelligan and Julie Covington in the cast.

1992 Tennessee Williams' immortal character Stanley Kowalski is reborn in the form of Alec Baldwin as a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Amy Madigan and Jessica Lange also star in the production, directed by Gregory Mosher.

1994 Edward Albee once again wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, for his play Three Tall Women. He won the award previously for A Delicate Balance in 1967 and for Seascape in 1975. The win ties him with playwright Robert E. Sherwood, making them both one shy of the four-timer Eugene O'Neill.

2001 Faith Prince stars as the charmingly meddlesome answering service operator Ella Peterson in the first Broadway revival of Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jule Styne's Bells Are Ringing.

2015 A stage version of the classic Gershwin film An American in Paris opens on Broadway. Directed and choregraphed by Christopher Wheeldon, it stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope. It runs 623 performances at the Palace Theatre.

2016 Anne Jackson, a theatre actor whose decades-long career that was highlighted by frequent on-stage teamings with her husband Eli Wallach, dies at age 90. Among her Broadway appearances with Wallach were the 1964 hit comedy Luv, and the American premiere of Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros. She received a Tony nomination for her performance in the 1956 Broadway production of Paddy Chayefsky's Middle of the Night.

More of Today's Birthdays: Ann Miller 1923. Alan Ayckbourn 1939. Dan Lauria 1947. David Cassidy 1950. Claire Danes 1979.

Watch highlights from the 2015 Broadway production of An American in Paris:

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