Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: April 7

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: April 7
Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin in South Pacific.
Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin in South Pacific. John Swope / The New York Public Library

1913 On The Purple Road there's a disguised Napoleon waiting to woo an unsuspecting girl named Wanda. Valli Valli is the innocent soon to meet her Waterloo at the Liberty Theatre in New York.

1949 Joshua Logan, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II travel to the South Pacific, as their new musical based on James Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific" opens on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre. Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza star. It will go on to win ten Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and run for 1,925 performances.

1950 Walter Huston dies today in Hollywood, CA at age 66. Later known more for his film acting, Huston began his career on the stage in 1902. He appeared in Desire Under the Elms, Dodsworth, and Knickerbocker Holiday. His son John went on to be a successful movie director, and his granddaughter Angelica is an Academy Award-winning actress.

1964 Noël Coward stages the musical High Spirits which Hugh Martin and Timothy Gray based on Coward's Blithe Spirit. Beatrice Lillie and Tammy Grimes are featured at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway. There will be 375 performances.

1970 Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds opens Off Broadway at The Mercer O'Casey Theatre. The play, about a mother whose husband leaves her to raise two teen daughters, features Sada Thompson. Actress Swoosie Kurtz makes her debut in the production.

1994 Hell hath no fury like Diana Rigg! The actress opens in the title role of Euripides' Medea at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway. The show will run 82 performances under the direction of Jonathan Kent.

2002 Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog opens on Broadway. One day later the drama about brothers named Booth and Lincoln will win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

2005 Tony-winners James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams return to Broadway in a revival of On Golden Pond.

2007 Barry Nelson, the likable, average-Joe star of some of the biggest Broadway comedies of the '50s and '60s including The Moon Is Blue and Mary, Mary, dies at age 87 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

2008 Tracy Letts' August: Osage County wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, beginning its sweep of Best Play awards.

2009 Following an acclaimed run at Off-Broadway's New World Stages, Rock of Ages opens at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Constantine Maroulis, Amy Spanger and James Carpinello star in the musical which features a score of 1980s hits by rock groups Journey, Bon Jovi, Styx, Pat Benatar and others.

2011 Anything Goes, the 1934 Cole Porter musical about the lovers, liars and clowns on a transatlantic cruise, opens at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Stephen Sondheim Theatre. Kathleen Marshall directs and choreographs the revival starring Sutton Foster, Joel Grey, Laura Osnes and Colin Donnell.

2015 Hand to God, starring Steven Boyer as a boy with a foul-mouthed hand puppet, opens at the Booth Theatre, marking the Broadway debuts of playwright Robert Askins and director Moritz von Stuelpnagel.

Today's Birthdays: Bert Wheeler 1895. Billie Holiday 1915. James Garner 1928. Ed Wittstein 1929. Ian Richardson 1934.