1911 Chicago's Columbia Theatre opens its doors today. Architect J.E.O. Pridmore designed this house which seats 1,550. In 1923 it will become the Adelphi. In 1974 its doors will close for demolition.
1947 English actor Ben Webster dies in Hollywood today. He appeared in acting companies with the likes of Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. He came to America in 1939. His last Broadway appearance was as Lord Montague in Romeo and Juliet with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. He was married to Dame May Whitty and father of director Margaret Webster.
1960 Burgess Meredith stages A Thurber Carnival with Thurber's sketches in words and cartoons. The cast includes Paul Ford, Peggy Cass, John McGiver, Alice Ghostley and Tom Ewell. It will run 16 weeks and re-open Sept. 5 for an additional 12 weeks.
1962 Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad, stars Austin Pendleton as the poor son in this Arthur Kopit comedy. Jerome Robbins stages Off-Broadway at the Phoenix Theatre for 454 performances. When the production closes, it heads to the road for an eleven week tour, and then opens on Broadway.
1978 Ira Levin's Deathtrap opens today at the Music Box Theatre, staring John Wood, Victor Garber and Marian Seldes. It will go on to play 1,793 performances, the longest Broadway run ever for a murder mystery.
1999 Jose Quintero, the Panama-born director who won a Tony Award as Best Director for his A Moon for the Misbegotten, dies of cancer in New York City at 74. Known for his revivals of works by Eugene O'Neill, he also directed Broadway productions of Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh. On May 2, 2000 the Kaufman Theatre on 42nd Street was officially re-christened the Jose Quintero Theatre.
2003 With only a few days remaining until a March 2 contract expiration between their union and Broadway producers, Broadway pit musicians gather outside Broadway theatres to pass out literature explaining their grievances. Within days, they will go on strike.
2013 Manhattan Theatre Club's world premiere production of Liz Flahive's The Madrid, starring Edie Falco as a mother and teacher who sheds her life and moves to a rundown apartment building, opens Off-Broadway at New York City Center Stage I.
Today's Birthdays: Victor Hugo 1802. William Frawley 1887. Robert Alda 1914. Jackie Gleason 1916. Mason Adams 1919. Tony Randall 1920. Betty Hutton 1921. Godfrey Cambridge 1933. Priscilla Lopez 1948. Michael Cumpsty 1960.