PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: FEBRUARY 17

By Robert Viagas
and Anne Bradley
17 Feb 2014

1902 Joseph Hart's popular musical Foxy Grandpa opens a 120-performance run today at the 14th Street Theatre.



1916 Robinson Crusoe, Jr. is Al Jolson, who dreams he is the strandee. Sigmund Romberg scores and Jolson improvises with his favorite songs. This musical will run at the Winter Garden for 139 performances.

1919 It's a spoof of operettas at the Cohan and Harris Theatre in New York. The Royal Vagabond, with a score by Anselm Goetzl added to by George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin, will run 208 performances.

1925 John Barrymore's Hamlet reigns at the Haymarket in London. Fay Compton, Constance Collier and Malcolm Keen join him for the 67 performances.

1932 It's time to Face the Music at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Irving Berlin's scores Moss Hart's book. For 21 weeks audiences will be asked, Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee.

1976 Opening night of legendary flop Rockabye Hamlet, Cliff Jones' rock musical version of Shakespeare's tragedy, which has a 7-performance run at the Minskoff Theatre with a cast that includes Larry Marshall as Hamlet, Beverly D'Angelo as Ophelia (who commits suicide by strangling herself with her immense microphone cord), and Meat Loaf as a Priest.

1982 Instructor-teacher Lee Strasberg, the foremost advocate of Method acting, dies at the age of 80. "Art is longer than life," he once said, and his style of acting lives on at his Lee Strasberg Institute of the Theatre, in both New York and Los Angeles.

1999 The Drama Desk organization officially celebrates its 50th anniversary. Six years after its inception, the Drama Desk Awards were created to recognize excellence in not only Broadway but Off-Broadway theatre as well.

2003 Walloped by a blizzard that drops more than 20 inches of snow in Times Square, several Broadway shows cancel performances.

Today's Birthdays: Arthur Kennedy 1914. Kathleen Freeman 1919. Hal Holbrook 1925. Patricia Routledge 1929. Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) 1934. Alan Bates 1934. Cris Groenendaal 1948. Don Scardino 1948. Becky Ann Baker 1953. Billie Joe Armstrong 1972.