PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: FEBRUARY 21

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and Robert Viagas, Ernio Hernandez and Anne Bradley
21 Feb 2015

1879 John Wellington Wells deals his magic and spells for the first time on Broadway with the American premiere of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's The Sorcerer at the old Broadway Theatre.

1928 A killer octopus threatens a group stranded in a lighthouse in Ralph Murphy and Donald Gallagher's oddly-titled thriller Sh, the Octopus. It runs 47 performances at the Royale Theatre and is later filmed.

1938 Wine of Choice proves bitter for a woman smitten with a dedicated Marxist who has no time for love. The Theatre Guild produces this S. N. Behrman comedy, with a cast that includes Alexander Woollcott. It has 43 performances.

1958 Legendary flop musical Portofino gives the first of its three performances at the Adelphi Theatre. Helen Gallagher stars in the show, written by Louis Bellson, Will Irwin, Richard Ney and Sheldon Harnick.

1961 The Changeling by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley is revived for the first time since the 17th century. London's Royal Court Theatre production stars Robert Shaw, Mary Ure and Zoe Caldwell. Tony Richardson directs.

1972 Moonchildren beam into the Royale Theatre in New York. Michael Weller captures the Flower Power sweeping America's colleges. This production will close after only two weeks.

1976 Actress Frieda Inescort dies today. After a British debut, she appeared in sophisticated Broadway comedies such as You and I by Philip Barry. She was 75 years old.

1991 Neil Simon preserves his stronghold on Broadway as Lost in Yonkers opens at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The Tony- and Pulitzer-winning comedy/drama stars Mercedes Ruehl, Irene Worth and Kevin Spacey.

2002 Elaine Stritch opens her solo show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre. The show will go on to win the 2002 Tony Award as Best Special Event.

2008 The Menier Chocolate Factory's hit London production of Sunday in the Park With George, comes to Studio 54 with London leads Daniel Evans as George and Jenna Russell as Dot. Directed by Sam Buntrock, the production is notable for the use of animated drawings (designed by Timothy Bird) to illustrate the progress of the painting that forms the show's centerpiece.

Today's Birthdays: Sacha Guitry 1885. Rue McClanahan 1935. David Geffen 1943. Tyne Daly 1946. Alan Rickman 1946. Christine Ebersole 1953. Kelsey Grammer 1955. Andrea Burns 1971.