PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: MARCH 17

By David Gewirtzman
and Anne Bradley and Ernio Hernandez
17 Mar 2014

1924 Doris Keane and Jacob Ben-Ami are Welded. Eugene O'Neill's drama outlines a marriage that is stronger than the couple realizes. It lasts three weeks at the 39th Street Theatre.



1926 The songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart highlight The Girl Friend at the Vanderbilt Theatre in New York. Herbert Fields pens the story of a man who trains for a bicycle race using a butter churn.

1943 Would you Kiss and Tell? Hugh Herbert's play about the lives of teenagers runs 956 performances at the Biltmore Theatre in New York.

1960 Dear Liar exposes the relationship between George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell. Using their correspondence as a starting point, Jerome Kilty shapes this play, which he also stages. Brian Aherne and Katharine Cornell are the playwright and the actress.

1992 Glenn Close, Richard Dreyfuss and Gene Hackman headline Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden which opens tonight at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The plays sees plenty of holiday-appropriate green in advance sales, but the show receives mixed reviews and closes Aug 2.

1993 Theatre legend Helen Hayes dies at the age of 92. Known as the First Lady of the American Theatre, the awards and honors she received during her lifetime (including the first Tony for Best Actress) filled an entire room in her home. As if that wasn't enough, in 1955, the 50th anniversary of her professional stage debut, a Broadway theatre was named for her and in 1993, the Helen Hayes Awards were established in her name to honor achievement in theatre in her hometown Washington, DC.

1996 Stephen Sondheim and George Furth team up for a non-musical murder mystery, Getting Away With Murder, with a top-notch cast including Terrence Mann, Christine Ebersole, John Rubinstein, Josh Mostel and Jodi Long. It runs just 17 performances, but is memorable for its macabre ad. The logo, which showed a pistol-toting gargoyle, was changed after the closing notice to show the gargoyle with the gun pointed at its own head.

2005 A banner day for musical theatre as Monty Python's Spamalot opens on Broadway, starring Tim Curry, Hank Azaria and David Hyde-Pierce, and The Light in the Piazza begins previews. The two shows will go on to dominate the 2005 Tony Awards with Piazza winning the most (six) and Spamalot coming away as Best Musical.

2011 A revival of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia opens on Broadway at the Barrymore Theatre. Billy Crudup, who made his Broadway debut as Septimus Hodge in the original New York production, takes on the role of Bernard Nightingale. Based on the 2009 London revival directed by David Leveaux, the cast also includes Raśl Esparza and Margaret Colin.

Today's Birthdays: Shemp Howard 1895. Tamara Geva 1907. Mercedes McCambridge 1918. Gary Sinise 1955. Vicki Lewis 1960.