Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: March 23

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: March 23
A scene from Aida.
A scene from Aida Joan Marcus

1940 It's Separate Rooms for an actor who would rather sleep with her pet Chihuahua than her playwright husband. Glenda Farrell and Lyle Talbot are the twosome. The comedy by Alan Dinehart and Joseph Carole runs 613 performances.

1964 Actor Peter Lorre dies in Hollywood at age 60. Known mainly as a film actor, in the 1950s the German-born actor appeared at several theatres doing monologues and poetry readings.

1966 Hal Holbrook opens at Broadway's Longacre Theatre in Mark Twain Tonight! Holbrook toured widely with the show since it was first produced in 1959 Off-Broadway. The production runs for nine weeks. Holbrook returns to Broadway with revivals of the play in 1977 and 2005.

1971 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest soars more successfully downtown than its earlier Broadway flight. Kirk Douglas starred in that short-lived 1963 production of the Ken Kesey novel. William Devane heads the cast in Dale Wasserman's revised adaptation. It runs for 1,025 performances at the Mercer-Hansberry Theatre in Greenwich Village.

1994 Two years after the infamous riots following the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles, Anna Deavere Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 opens Off Broadway at the Joseph Papp Public Theater. The text of the dateline drama is taken from interviews she had with people directly or indirectly involved in the case. The play, which premiered at the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, transfers to Broadway following its runs at NJ's McCarter Theatre and the Public.

1995 Matthew Broderick teaches Broadway How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying as the Frank Loesser musical is revived at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Broderick wins a Tony Award for his performance as J. Pierrepont Finch. He is 'succeed'ed by John Stamos for a brief stint before returning to close the show July 14, 1996 with his real-life sweetheart (and future wife) Sarah Jessica Parker.

2000 Disney increases the number of musicals it has running on Broadway to three, as Aida opens at the Palace Theatre. Adam Pascal, Sherie Rene Scott, and Heather Headley star. Despite not being nominated for Best Musical, Aida wins four Tony Awards including ones for Headley's performance and for Elton John and Tim Rice's score.

2003 The film version of the musical Chicago wins six Oscars including Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The win marks the first time a movie musical has taken home the Best Picture Oscar in more than three decades (Oliver! was the last, in 1968). Other Oscars for the film include Catherine Zeta-Jones for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of killer showgirl Velma Kelly. (Zeta-Jones was nominated in a category that also included her Chicago co-star, Queen Latifah.)

2011 Elizabeth Taylor, a movie star who for a half-century was as famous for her personal attractiveness and sensational personal life as she was for her many films, dies at the age of 79. Her Broadway appearances included revivals of The Little Foxes and Private Lives.

2014 Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's Tony Award-winning musical Les Misérables returns to Broadway in a reimagined revival featuring fresh scenic and narrative elements as well as new orchestrations. Opening at the Imperial Theatre, the show's home on Broadway for nearly 13 years and 5,244 performances, the new production stars Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, Will Swenson as Javert, Caissie Levy as Fantine, and Nikki M. James as Eponine.

Today's Birthdays: Clarence Derwent 1884. Amanda Plummer 1957. Hope Davis 1964. Melissa Errico 1970.

Watch highlights from the 2014 Broadway revival of Les Misérables:

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