PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: JANUARY 27

By Robert Viagas
and Christopher Reichheld and Anne Bradley
27 Jan 2014

1885 Birthday of master tunesmith Jerome Kern (1885-1945), who will write scores to many Broadway shows, including classics, Show Boat, Sally, Very Good Eddie and Roberta. His songs will resurface in the 2003 musical, Never Gonna Dance."



1895 Birthday of lyricist Buddy DeSylva (1895-1950), who supplied words to songs in projects as diverse as Good News, Sally, Ziegfeld Follies of 1921 and several editions of George White's Scandals.

1895 Yet another songwriter is born on this date: Harry Ruby (1895-1974), composer and/or lyricist of The Five O'Clock Girl and The Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers.

1931 Broadway debut of Noel Coward's romantic comedy Private Lives, with Coward playing Elyot and Gertrude Lawrence as Amanda. It will run 256 performances at the Times Square Theatre, and will go on to be Coward's most-produced work — eight times on Broadway alone.

1939 Cyril Cusack is Christy Mahon, widely known as The Playboy of the Western World. This revival of John Millington Synge's work plays at London's Mercury Theatre.

1955 Barbara Cook has her first hit in an original musical, Plain and Fancy, set in Pennsylvania Dutch country. The Albert Hague/Joseph Stein musical will run 461 performances and become a staple of stock companies.

1959 Adapted from the film of the same name, Rashomon plays at the Music Box Theatre. Peter Glenville directs Claire Bloom, Rod Steiger and Oscar Homolka in a run of 20 weeks in this Fay and Michael Kanin dramatization from the original Japanese.

1969 Aristophanes' anti-war comedy Peace is updated by Tim Reynolds, and set to music with a score by Rev. Al Carmines. Lawrence Kornfeld stages the 192 performances at the Astor Place Theatre.

1974 Carol Channing stars as Lorelei a Kenny Solms and Gail Parent musical, inspired by the show Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green provide the songs. Direction is handled by Robert Moore.

1982 After it has a successful life in London and stock productions, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice see their first musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, open on Broadway. Laurie Beechman and Bill Hutton are featured in the musical, which attains a run of 747 performances at the Royale Theatre.

1991 Stephen Sondheim's new musical, Assassins, opens at Playwrights Horizons. Featured in the cast are Victor Garber, Debra Monk, Terrence Mann, Patrick Cassidy, and Annie Golden.

1997 John Gray's solo performance, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, based on his book of the same title, opens at the Gershwin Theatre. The show includes commentary on the relationships between men and women.

2005 Court TV brings the Off-Broadway drama The Exonerated to cable television with Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Delroy Lindo, Susan Sarandon, Aidan Quinn and David Brown, Jr. starring as the wrongfully imprisoned.

2006 A theatrical tradition bites the dust: No more piles of opening night congratulatory telegrams, as Western Union announces it is discontinuing telegram and commercial messaging services after 145 years.

More of Today's Birthdays: Benay Venuta 1911. Doretta Morrow 1927. Alan Cumming 1965.