1895 Bert Lahr (nee Irving Lahrheim), the future stage and screen clown, is born today in New York. Following an early career in Vaudeville, Lahr will enjoy a widely successful career on Broadway in such musicals as Du Barry was a Lady and Foxy. Lahr is best remembered by today's audiences for his performance as the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
1921 Lynn Fontanne has her first major hit in the starring role of Dulcy, the comedy by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly. Despite her success, she will rarely perform without future husband Alfred Lunt again.
1981 Ira Levin’s thriller Deathtrap becomes Broadway's longest-running show of that genre tonight, as it plays its 1,445th performance. Currently featured in the cast of the production at the Music Box Theatre are Farley Granger, Elizabeth Parrish, Ernest Townsend, and Marian Seldes. Deathtrap opened at the Music Box on Feb. 26, 1978, with Seldes, John Wood, and Victor Garber in the cast. Tony nominations were awarded for the play, director Robert Moore, and actors Seldes and Garber.
1997 Mere Mortals and Others, the Off-Off-Broadway success which played at Primary Stages moves to Off-Broadway's John Houseman Theatre. The follow-up to playwright David Ives' comic compilation of one-acts All in the Timing, Mere Mortals combines six other one-acts as directed by John Rando. The six plays comprising the show are: Mere Mortals, Speed The Play, Foreplay, Or, The Art Of The Fugue, Degas, C'Est Moi, the newly written Dr. Fritz and Time Flies.
2001 "I love you, Butthead," Monica Lewinsky confessed she told then-President Bill Clinton in a phone conversation with her confidante, Linda Tripp. Snatches, a collection of such illuminating details from the infamous Lewinsky incident which almost led to Clinton's removal from office, are gathered into a play with the unfortunate title Snatches. The comedy, adapted verbatim from the women's taped talks by Laura Strausfield begins performances today at the 78th Street Theatre Lab Off-Broadway.
2011 The New York premiere of Yeast Nation (The Triumph of Life), a new musical by Urinetown's Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, starring Harriet Harris, begins performances as part of the 15th annual New York International Fringe Festival. The production sells out its entire run at La Mama ETC before the first performance.
2014 Jeremy Jordan and Laura Michelle Kelly star in the world premiere of Gary Barlow, Eliot Kennedy and James Graham's musical Finding Neverland, opening at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. Diane Paulus directs the work based on the 2004 film about Peter Pan playwright J.M. Barrie. The production will transfer to Broadway in 2015, with Matthew Morrison replacing Jordan in the role of J.M. Barrie.