PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: FEBRUARY 12

By David Gewirtzman
and Anne Bradley
12 Feb 2014

1903 Birthday of Broadway leading man Todd Duncan (1903-1998), who will create the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess, and star in the original productions of Lost in the Stars and Cabin in the Sky.



1906 Opening night of George M. Cohan's George Washington Jr. at the Herald Square Theatre. Introduces the standard "You're a Grand Old Flag.

1915 The Neighborhood Playhouse opens at 466 Grand Street in New York. It is funded by Alice and Irene Lewisohn, noted for their arts and education philanthropies.

1924 How fast is a Beggar on Horseback? Come to the Broadhust Theatre to find out. George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly's comedy limning the dream of a harried composer will run beyond the season. Osgood Perkins and Spring Byington star.

1929 English actress Lily Langtry dies today in Monaco. She made her stage debut with the Bancrofts at the Haymarket in 1881. She organized her own company and toured England and America. She was 77 years old.

1930 An honest schoolteacher finds himself drawn into a confidence scheme in Marcel Pagnol's drama Topaze, starring Clarence Derwent and Frank Morgan. The drama plays 150 performances at the Music Box Theatre, and is later filmed at least five times.

1958 Laurence Olivier stars on Broadway in John Osborne's bitter drama, The Entertainer, playing a faded musical hall star who represents postwar England.

1967 Black Comedy alights at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. This Peter Shaffer comedy, shown with his The White Lies as a curtain raiser, stars Michael Crawford, Lynn Redgrave and Peter Bull. There will be 337 performances.

1969 Woody Allen stars in his own comedy, Play It Again, Sam, about a nebbishy film buff who uses the ghost of tough-guy film star Humphrey Bogart to help him win the affection of his dream girl, played by Diane Keaton. It runs 453 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

1979 After more than a month of previews, Mitch Leigh's musical Sarava reluctantly has its opening night — but only after theatre critics from major papers threaten to review it anyway. Starring Tovah Feldshuh, the romance will last 101 performances.

1998 John Leguizamo's solo show, Freak, subtitled "A Semi Demi Quasi Pseudo Autobiography (His Most Dangerous Work Yet)," opens at the Cort Theatre. The production goes on to extend twice, receive Tony nominations for Best Play and Best Performance by a Leading Actor, and be filmed for HBO by Spike Lee.

2013 Primary Stages' 20th anniversary revival of David Ives' All in the Timing opens Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters. Directed by John Rando, the collection of short comedies stars Carson Elrod, Jenn Harris, Matthew Saldivar, Liv Rooth and Eric Clem.

More of Today's Birthdays: Joseph E. Howard 1867. Louis Zorich 1924. Patrick Quinn 1950. Zach Grenier 1954.