PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: FEBRUARY 22

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and Robert Viagas, Ernio Hernandez and Anne Bradley
22 Feb 2014

1930 Birthday of Marni Nixon, singer whose voice will be dubbed into the mouths of better-known performers, including Natalie Wood in the film of West Side Story. She will make her Broadway debut in 1954's The Girl in Pink Tights, and not return to Broadway until James Joyce's The Dead in 2000. Other recent apperances include revivals of Follies and Nine.

1961 Opening night of Come Blow Your Horn, Neil Simon's first full-length Broadway comedy. it will run 677 performances at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

1966 Two one-acts comprise Tennessee Williams' Slapstick Tragedy. The Mutilated features Kate Reid and Margaret Leighton as two shop women in an abrasive friendship; and The Gnadiges Fraulein has Leighton as an ex-performer who must pick through the garbage to eat. Catch all the fun fast, there will be only seven performances at the Longacre Theatre.

1967 MacBird! is Barbara Garson's parodic melding of Macbeth and Lyndon Johnson's presidency. It will run 386 performances at the Village Gate Theatre. Stacy Keach and Rue McClanahan are among the cast.

1978 Jeremy Irons and Simon Ward are directed by Harold Pinter in The Rear Column. Simon Gray's drama depicting British soldiers on a special mission in Africa will run 44 performances at London's Globe Theatre.



1976 British actress Angela Baddeley dies today. She appeared in countless shows ranging from modern comedies to classics. In 1935 she played opposite Emlyn Williams in his thriller, Night Must Fall. She was 72 years old.

1983 Legendary Broadway flop Moose Murders opens — and closes the same night. Arthur Bicknell's farce is set at a run-down ski lodge decorated with numerous moose heads.

1998 The Broadway revival of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II's The King and I that opened April 11, 1996, closes at the Neil Simon Theatre. The King and Anna were played by Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy, then Kevin Gray and Faith Prince, before adding Marie Osmond prior to the close. Following the lead of the original, which won the Tony for Best Musical in 1952, this production took home the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.

2003 Louis LaRusso II, the prolific playwright whose hometown of Hoboken, NJ, honored him with a special proclamation in 1998 for chronicling the Hoboken experience in 26 plays, dies today of cancer, at age 67. His oeuvre includes the Tony-nominated drama Lamppost Reunion, about a Frank Sinatra-like figure returning to his hometown neighborhood bar.

2004 Jerry Springer: The Opera and The Pillowman win top honors at the Olivier Awards in London amid allegations of vote-rigging and a TV pull-out.

2004 Also today, Mary Bryant, the tough and protective Broadway press agent who handled the works of director Hal Prince, dies of a brain hemmorhage at age 71.

2005 Trude Rittman, 96, the respected dance and vocal arranger for Broadway artists Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II, Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe, Irving Berlin, Jerome Robbins and Agnes de Mille, dies of of respiratory failure.

2005 Also today, Heath Lamberts, 63, the character actor and farceur known for many classic roles in major North American theatres, as well as for creating Cogsworth in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, dies of cancer.

2012 The world premiere of Early Plays, Richard Maxwell's adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's plays anchored in the world of sailors and the sea, officially opens at St. Ann's Warehouse. A collaboration between the Wooster Group and the New York City Players, the production includes O'Neill's Bound East for Cardiff (1914), The Long Voyage Home (1917) and The Moon of the Caribbees (1918).

More of Today's Birthdays: James Kirkwood, Sr. 1875. Edna St. Vincent Millay 1892. Nacio Herb Brown 1896. Sheldon Leonard 1907. Jules Munshin 1915. Paul Dooley 1928. Ellen Greene 1950. Lea Salonga 1971.