Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: October 13

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: October 13
Uta Hagen in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Uta Hagen in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

1903 Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland opens on Broadway, introducing the songs "I Can't Do the Sum," "Go To Sleep," "Toyland" and "The March of the Wooden Soldiers." The latter title will be adopted as the title of a 1930s film version, starring Laurel and Hardy.

1924 Ferenc Molnár's comedy The Guardsman opens on Broadway with Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne and Dudley Digges. It runs 496 performances.

1955 George Axelrod's comedy of social climbing in the business world, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? opens on Broadway with a cast that features Walter Matthau, Orson Bean, Jayne Mansfield and Tina Louise. It runs 444 performances.

1958 Anne Bancroft, star of stage and screen, actually auditioned for the Actor's Studio last week. According to Leonard Lyon's column, which was published today, "star or no star, she still had to audition. She passed." Bancroft will be remembered for her portrayal both on stage (1960) and in film (1962) of Helen Keller's teacher in The Miracle Worker. She won a Tony and an Academy award for the role.

1962 Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opens tonight at the Billy Rose Theatre (now the Nederlander). Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, Melinda Dillon, and George Grizzard are the cast who perform this three-and-half hour long show six times a week. The show is so challenging and long, a separate cast would do matinee performances. Woolf, about two couples who bare their personal secrets, ran 664 performances in New York before heading to London with Hagen and Hill in tow, where it will run 428 performances.

1964 Peter Brook's production of The Physicists, by Friedrich Duerrenmatt, opens tonight at the Martin Beck Theatre. This drama, about a group of scientists who hide out in an insane asylum, starred dynamic duo and husband and wife team Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. The show will run 55 performances.

1987 Terrence McNally gets a shining moment at the Manhattan Theatre Club tonight as his Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune opens. The story involves a middle-aged cook and waitress who sleep together one night and find themselves dealing with whether or not they should be involved. Kathy Bates stars with Kenneth Welsh in this play that will run at MTC for 533 performance, be made into a movie in 1991 starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, and finally arrive on Broadway in 2002.

1998 The rarely-produced William Shakespeare play Pericles sees a production at Off-Broadway's The Public Theater. This mounting is directed by Brian Kulick and stars Viola Davis and Jay Goede. The Public also produced the last major New York production of the play, with Michael Greif directing Campbell Scott in the title role.

1999 Screen star Ally Sheedy takes over the role of Hedwig Schmidt in the Off-Broadway rock musical about a sex-change operation gone wrong, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Sheedy's portrayal of Hedwig is the first and last time a woman plays the title role in the production. Sheedy remains with the show for only a few stormy weeks, until Matt McGrath assumes the role on Jan. 6.

2005 British playwright Harold Pinter wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

2005 Also today, onetime Cheech and Chong comedian Cheech Marin makes his Broadway directing debut with Latinologues, Rick Najera's collection of comic monologues about the Latino experience in America.

2007 The premiere broadcast of Legally Blonde on MTV. It had been filmed live at the Palace Theatre, in its entirety, at the Sept. 18 performance.

2010 America's angst-ridden adolescence rocks out on Broadway as Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman's Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson opens at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. Portraying the seventh President of the United States as a rebellious rock star leading a nation through its troubled teens, the 90-minute musical is equal parts sketch comedy, underground rock concert and revisionist history lesson.

2011 Katori Hall's Olivier Award-winning drama The Mountaintop, starring Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson, opens on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. Set in a Memphis motel room on April 3, 1968, the play re-imagines the events leading up to the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

2012 George and Martha return to Broadway in a new production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, opening 50 years to the day of its 1962 Broadway premiere. This time around, Tracy Letts and Amy Morton play the college-town husband and wife, in the staging first seen in late 2010 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company's home in Chicago. The production will go on to earn three 2013 Tony Awards: Best Actor in a Play (Letts), Best Direction of a Play (Pam MacKinnon) and Best Revival of a Play.

Today's Birthdays: Lily Langtry 1853. Cornel Wilde 1915. Albert Hague 1920. Anita Alvarez 1920. Frank D. Gilroy 1925. Lenny Bruce 1925. Cliff Gorman 1936. Melinda Dillon 1939. Paul Simon 1941. George Lee Andrews 1942. Karen Akers 1945.

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