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, ingenue of the 1950s who creates lead roles in Flahooley, Candide, The Grass Harp, and The Music Man (as the original Marian the Librarian), and later reinvents 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 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 the play, which runs 185 performances, followed by a 32 performance return engagement. Sarayon sends 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 the original Broadway casts of Rent and Aida.

1973 Neil Simon marries Marsha Mason. Mason is about to appear on Broadway in Simon's The Good Doctor, which opens on November 27. Their marriage lasts until October 1983.

1992 David Mamet's new play, Oleanna, opens 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 the show, which runs 513 performances.

1995 After being absent from the Broadway stage for nearly 35 years, Julie Andrews returns in Victor/Victoria, the Blake Edwards, Leslie Bricusse, and Henry Mancini musical. The original film version, in 1982, was directed by Edwards, as is the Broadway production. Tony Roberts and Michael Nouri star in the gender-bending musical, which has additional music by Frank Wildhorn. The show runs 734 performances, with the title role later taken on by 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 opens a limited run through January 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 opens a limited engagement 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 transfers to Broadway the following year, winning Tony Awards for Birney's and Houdyshell's performances, and Best Play.

2016 British theatre director Howard Davies, whose work spanned the RSC, National Theatre, West End, and Broadway, dies at age 71. Davies received Tony nominations for directing revivals of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1987), The Iceman Cometh (1999), and Private Lives (2002), and also directed Broadway productions of Piaf, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, My Fair Lady, Translations, and A Moon for the Misbegotten.

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

Watch highlights from Adam Pascal's performance as Huey Calhoun in Memphis:

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