1888 Birthday of Broadway comedian Bobby Clark, best known for his drawn-on eyeglasses and slapstick comedy style, often in tandem with sidekick Paul McCullough. Clark's resume includes Strike Up the Band, Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, Star and Garter, Mexican Hayride, and Michael Todd's Peep Show.
1937 When the audience arrives at Maxine Elliott's Theatre for the first public performance of Marc Blitztein's pro-union "labor opera" The Cradle Will Rock, they are informed by director Orson Welles that the government has shut down the WPA Federal Theatre Project production. In response, Welles and producer John Houseman rent the empty Venice Theatre, and the cast and audience march 20 blocks uptown to the new venue. For the performance, Blitzstein plays the piano on a bare stage, Welles narrates the action, and the actors—barred from taking the stage by the president of Actors' Equity—perform their roles from seats in the audience.
1967 English actor Reginald Denny dies in Richmond, England. Besides being a television and film actor, Denny also appeared on Broadway when he succeeded Robert Coote as Colonel Pickering in the original Broadway run of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's My Fair Lady.
1976 Dirty Linen / New-Found-Land , an evening of two one-act plays by Tom Stoppard, opens at London's Arts Theatre following an engagement at the Almost Free Theatre. There are 1,667 performances. A five-month-long Broadway run is launched on January 11, 1977 at the John Golden Theatre.
1998 The Argentinian performance piece, De La Guarda, christens New York City's new Daryl Roth Theatre in Union Square. The space that was once a bank is home to the show in which audiences stand while they watch the performers suspended above by rope and cable. The performance with music, but no words, takes place entirely in the air. It runs 2,475 performances before closing on September 12, 2004.
2000 Blythe Danner, Charlotte d'Amboise, Terrence Mann, and Bill Irwin head the cast of Massachusetts' Williamstown Theatre Festival production of Noël Coward's Tonight at 8:30. Six of the original ten one-acts which made up Coward's play are divided into two programs, which are performed in repertory by different casts.
2005 Kate Burton is The Constant Wife in Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of the 1926 W. Somerset Maugham comedy. Opening at the American Airlines Theatre, the cast also includes Michael Cumpsty, John Dossett, and Lynn Redgrave.
2011 A revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Miles, and Douglas Henshall, opens in London at the West End's Comedy Theatre. Ian Rickson directs the play that examines an extramarital affair in backwards chronology.
More of Today's Birthdays: Stan Laurel 1890. Lew Pollack 1895. Jack Albertson 1907. Ilona Massey 1910. Eileen Atkins 1934. Laurie Metcalf 1955. Danny Burstein 1964. Rajiv Joseph 1974. Willemijn Verkaik 1975.
Watch a clip from Classic Stage Company's 2019 Off-Broadway revival of The Cradle Will Rock: