Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: October 25

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: October 25
Barbara Cook in Follies in Concert (1985).
Barbara Cook in Follies in Concert (1985). Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1927 Birthday of Barbara Cook, sylphlike ingenue of the 1950s who created lead roles in Flahooley, Candide, The Grass Harp and The Music Man (as the original Marian the Librarian), and later reinvented herself as a top-flight cabaret singer.

1939 The first play to win both a Pulitzer Prize and a New York Drama Critics Circle Award, William Saroyan's The Time of Your Life, opens tonight at the Booth Theatre. The story tells of a group of denizens in a San Francisco bar. Gene Kelly and Celeste Holm are in the ensemble of this play, which will run 185 performances, followed by a 32 performance return engagement. Sarayon will send Columbia University a telegram rejecting his Pulitzer Prize because he does "not believe in prizes or awards in the realm of art."

1940 Ethel Waters and the Katherine Dunham dancers are featured in the Vernon Duke/John Latouche musical Cabin in the Sky, with choreography by George Balanchine. It runs 156 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre.

1956 Terrence Rattigan's double-bill Separate Tables opens at the Music Box Theatre and earns a Tony Award for leading lady Margaret Leighton. It runs 332 performances.

1970 Birth date of Adam Pascal, soulful leading man in Broadway's Rent and Aida.

1973 Neil Simon marries Marsha Mason today. Mason is about to appear on Broadway in Simon's The Good Doctor, which will open on November 27 of this year. Their marriage will last until October 1983.

1992 David Mamet's new play, Oleanna, opens tonight at the Orpheum Theatre. The play has exceptional advance sales of $200,000, an amount especially healthy for an off-Broadway production. Rebecca Pidgeon is the girl who accuses her professor, played by William H. Macy, of sexual harassment in this show, which will run 513 performances.

1995 After being absent from the Broadway stage for nearly 35 years, Julie Andrews returns tonight as she opens in Victor/Victoria, the Blake Edwards, Leslie Bricusse and Henry Mancini musical. The original film version, in 1982, was directed by Edwards, as is this Broadway production. Tony Roberts and Michael Nouri star in this gender-bending musical, which has additional music by Frank Wildhorn. The show will run 734 performances, eventually starring both Liza Minnelli and Raquel Welch.

2001 Pop crooner Harry Connick, Jr. makes his debut as a Broadway composer with the musical Thou Shalt Not, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, which opened a limited run through Jan. 6, 2002.

2002 Actor Richard Harris dies at age 72. The Irish actor played King Arthur in the film version of Camelot, and later on extended tours.

2009 Opening night for a Broadway revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs, which is planned to run in alternating repertory with another Neil Simon play, Broadway Bound. The two plays share a setting and many characters. Producer Emanuel Azenberg envisioned the twin productions as a “victory lap” for the 82-year-old Simon, but audiences don’t respond as expected. The production closes abruptly on its first weekend, and the second production is scratched.

2010 James Earl Jones, Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines star in the Broadway premiere of Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Driving Miss Daisy, which officially opens at the John Golden Theatre.

2015 Stephen Karam's The Humans opens Off-Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Laura Pels Theatre. Joe Mantello directs a cast including Reed Birney, Jayne Houdyshell and Sarah Steele. The production will transfer to Broadway the following year, winning Tony Awards for Birney's and Houdyshell's performances, and Best Play.

More of Today's Birthdays: Johann Strauss, Jr. 1825. Georges Bizet 1838. Leo G. Carroll 1892. Billy Barty 1924. William Biff McGuire 1926.

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