Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 14

News   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 14
Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson in Anna Christie.
Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson in Anna Christie.

1903 Opening night of The Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett's play about a child, much in the same vein as her The Secret Garden. It runs just 34 performances.

1904 Birthday of Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), who designed stylish costumes for many Broadway shows, most memorably My Fair Lady in 1956, but also sets and costumes for Saratoga, Coco, Tenderloin, The Grass Harp, The Chalk Garden, and others.

1929 This is a Gypsy who doesn't 'bump it with a trumpet'—her 'gimmick' is asphyxiation. Maxwell Anderson's heroine is torn between two men and decides to kill herself. Staged by George Cukor, this drama runs just two months at the Klaw Theatre in New York. In Anderson's script—but not in the Broadway run—the heroine decides to save herself at the last moment.

1930 George and Ira Gershwin team up with George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind for the first new musical of the 1930s, Strike Up the Band, a satire on big business that shows a tycoon spurring the country on to war over Swiss cheese. It features the comedy team of Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough. The show runs 191 performances, which encourages the team to move on to its next satire, the Pulitzer-winning Of Thee I Sing.

1954 The Boy Friend cavorts at the Wyndham's in London. Sandy Wilson's spoof of musicals of the '20s runs 2,084 performances.

1960 The Zoo Story, Edward Albee's first produced play, runs at the Provincetown Theatre in New York. William Daniels and George Maharis are featured as the two combatants. It runs in conjunction with Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape for 582 performances.

1993 Opening night of Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Anna Christie, starring Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson. Their onstage chemistry is so successful, the two later marry. The production receives the 1993 Tony Award for Best Revival.

1999 Fosse opens its razzle-dazzle tonight at the Broadhurst Theatre. The cast of dancers step to the moves of the late Bob Fosse, as choreographed by Ann Reinking and re-created by Chet Walker. Richard Maltby, Jr. and Reinking direct, with artistic advice given by Gwen Verdon. The production wins three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and runs for 1,093 performances.

1999 Polish avant-garde director Jerzy Grotowski dies of leukemia at age 65. Grotowski became a legend by treating theatre as a ritualistic, communal religious experience in a bare-bones style. His seminal book, Towards a Poor Theatre, was published in 1968.

2004 Uta Hagen, 84, the legendary co-star of the original Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? who commanded the respect of theatregoers and students alike (she penned Respect for Acting, an essential for acting students), dies at her Manhattan home.

2006 Shelley Winters, the candid, unpretentious, Oscar-winning actor who played brassy, blowsy supporting roles in many memorable films and a handful of notable stage turns, including A Hatful of Rain, dies in Beverly Hills, at age 85.

2009 Cameron Mackintosh's revamped version of his 1994 production of Lionel Bart's Oliver! opens in London at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. It stars Rowan Atkinson as Fagin, with Jodie Prenger—who won her role by public vote, following the BBC 1 Reality TV show I'd Do Anything—as Nancy.

2014 Bebe Neuwirth, who won a 1997 Tony Award for her acclaimed portrayal of jazz-age killer Velma Kelly in the hit revival of Chicago and returned ten years later as merry murderess Roxie Hart, steps into the role of Matron "Mama" Morton for an eight-week limited engagement.

2016 The Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway revival of Michael Frayn's Noises Off opens at the American Airlines Theatre. Andrea Martin, Megan Hilty, and Rob McClure star.

2016 Alan Rickman, the tall, urbane, classically trained British actor who, late in life, became internationally famous as the antagonist of Bruce Willis and Daniel Radcliffe in cinematic epics of violence and fantasy, dies at age 69. Aside from his screen appearances in Die Hard and the Harry Potter film series, Rickman also appeared on Broadway in the original productions of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Seminar, and in an acclaimed revival of Private Lives.

More of Today's Birthdays: Trevor Nunn 1940. Faye Dunaway 1941. Holland Taylor 1943. Kathleen Chalfant 1945. Julia Murney 1969.

Watch highlights from the 2016 Broadway revival of Noises Off:

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