Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 30

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 30
Lauren Bacall in <i>Applause.</i>
Lauren Bacall in Applause.

1858 Birthday of DeWolf Hopper (1858-1935), vaudeville comedian and musical comedy star, who was featured in Wang, Hoity-Toity, and many early Gilbert & Sullivan productions. His signature bit was a dramatic recitation of "Casey at the Bat," which he reportedly did more than 10,000 times.

1924 Librettist Glen MacDonough dies in Stamford Connecticut at age 57. He started his career as a journalist at the New York World. He later worked with Victor Herbert on Babes in Toyland.

1946 Although protested by some cast members over demeaning stereotypes, St. Louis Woman runs 113 performances. Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer collaborate on the all-black musical. The powerhouse cast includes the Nicholas Brothers, Pearl Bailey in her Broadway debut, and Juanita Hall.

1970 Lauren Bacall hears the Applause. Based on the film All About Eve, the musical has a book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and songs by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams. Ron Fields directs and choreographs the 896-performance run at the Palace Theatre. At the 1970 Tony Awards, Bacall wins Best Actress in a Musical, Fields wins Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography, and the production wins Best Musical.

1972 Phil Silvers, who originally turned down the role of Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, only to take the role of Marcus Lycus in the film, finally gets to play the wily slave in a revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical. He wins the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for what turns out to be his final Broadway role.

1978 Christopher Durang makes his Broadway debut with A History of the American Film, which manages to spoof dozens of film classics. It runs just 21 performances at the ANTA Theatre.

1980 Mark Medoff's Children of a Lesser God, which tells the story of a romance between a deaf woman and a hearing man, opens on Broadway. It runs 887 performances, and wins the Tony Award as Best Play. Lead Phyllis Frelich, who is deaf in real life, wins the Tony as Best Actress in a Play.

1982 John Pielmeier's Agnes of God takes over the Music Box Theatre on Broadway. Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Ashley, and Amanda Plummer are the threesome in the drama that unfolds over the body of a murdered baby. Plummer wins the Tony Award for her performance.

1998 When Danny Hoch, writer-performer of Some People, tried out his newer work at Off-Off Broadway's Performance Space 122 in March of 1997, he hoped to hone the show on the road and bring it back to New York. And that's just what happened as his solo-show, Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop, returns to PS 122 for a run through April 18.

2000 Susan Stroman's dance piece, Contact, opens at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. It runs 1,010 performances and wins the Tony Award as Best Musical despite the fact that it has no original score and no musicians (dances are performed to taped tracks of pop and classical pieces).

2000 The Lion King, the 1998 Tony Award for best musical from Elton John and Tim Rice and directed by Julie Taymor, reaches its 1,000th performance at the New Amsterdam Theatre. The Lion King, based on the animated film of the same name, opened on Broadway November 13, 1997.

2003 British comedians Sean Foley and Hamish McColl pay wacky tribute to forebears Morecambe and Wise in the imported hit The Play What I Wrote, a silly bit of clowning with an unusual gimmick: a different "Mystery Guest Star" each night. Among MGSs during the show's run: Nathan Lane, Kevin Kline, and Roger Moore.

2008 Conor McPherson's play The Seafarer closes at the Booth Theatre after 133 performances. Jim Norton later wins the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance.

2012 Judith of Bethulia, actor-playwright Charles Busch's latest stage comedy that takes on the 1914 silent Hollywood Biblical epic, begins a limited run at Theater for the New City. Carl Andress directs a cast that includes Busch (in the title role), Mary Testa, and Jennifer Cody.

2014 Idina Menzel stars as a woman who journeys down two possible roads to self discovery in Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's Broadway musical If/Then. Though not as successful as Kitt and Yorkey's previous musical—the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal—it does manage to run a year at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

More of Today's Birthdays: Sean O'Casey 1880. Anne Pitoniak 1922. Richard A. Dysart 1929. John Astin 1930. George Morfogen 1933. Rex Robbins 1935. Warren Beatty 1937. Dennis Parlato 1947.

Watch highlights from the 2014 Broadway production of If/Then, starring Idina Menzel:

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