Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 13

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 13
The original Broadway cast of Rent.
The original Broadway cast of Rent. Joan Marcus

1904 Set and costume designer Oliver Messel is born in London.

1911 Ethel Barrymore gives The Twelve Pound Look at the Empire Theatre. The James M. Barrie one-act is preceded by a revival of his Alice Sit-by-the-Fire also starring Barrymore. Later she tours the vaudeville circuit with the first mentioned show.

1957 Tom Ewell, Nancy Olson, and Darren McGavin navigate The Tunnel of Love at the the Royale Theatre. Joseph Fields directs and helps adapt Peter DeVries' novel. The comedy sails for 417 performances.

1963 City Center Light Opera revives Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Joseph Fields, and Jerome Chodorov's Wonderful Town for 16 performances. Featured performers include Kaye Ballard and Gabriel Dell.

1973 El Grande de Coca Cola stars Ron House as a nightclub owner whose family poses as famous stars to entertain the customers. It runs for 1,114 performances at the Mercer Arts Theatre in New York.

1983 Hoping to follow up his success in The Magic Show, magician Doug Henning plays the title role in the musical Merlin at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. The show runs six months, and is regularly stolen by Chita Rivera, who plays the villainous Queen, and by a young actor named Nathan Lane, who has just his second Broadway role as her son, Prince Fergus.

1996 Jonathan Larson's alt-rock musical Rent opens Off Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop. It quickly transfers to Broadway's Nederlander Theatre where it garners Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score. It is also awarded the year's Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

1997 An all-star Broadway revival of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters opens at the Criterion Theatre. The cast features Amy Irving, Lili Taylor, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Calista Flockhart, Billy Crudup, David Strathairn, Jerry Stiller, and Eric Stoltz.

2003 The New York City Council overrides a mayoral veto and bans cell phones in Broadway and Off-Broadway theatres, and other public cultural events. Offenders can face a fine of $50 and eviction from the venue in question. Mayor Michael Bloomberg objects that the law will be impossible to enforce.

2007 Ellen Hanley, 80, the musical theatre actor best known for playing the wife of Fiorello H. LaGuardia in Fiorello!, dies of a stroke in Norwalk, CT.

2012 An Off-Broadway revival of Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive, her dark Pulitzer Prize-winning coming-of-age play, opens at Second Stage Theatre. Directed by Kate Whoriskey, the cast features Elizabeth Reaser, Norbert Leo Butz, Kevin Cahoon, Jennifer Regan, and Marnie Schulenburg.

2013 Betty Buckley returns to the London stage in The Charing Cross Theatre production of Jerry Herman's musical Dear World. The production is directed and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, the choreographer who helped guide Buckley to a Tony Award for her portrayal of the faded glamour cat Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats.

More of Today's Birthdays: George Segal 1934. Stockard Channing 1944.

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