Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: February 6

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and Robert Viagas and Anne Bradley
06 Feb 2016

1946 Mary Martin and Yul Brynner play a Chinese couple who separate when the husband goes off on a quest in Lute Song. Raymond Scott composed the score, and Sidney Howard and Will Irwin wrote the libretto based on a Chinese folktale. It will run for 18 weeks at the Plymouth Theatre in New York.

1969 Jerry Herman, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's musical Dear World, starring Angela Lansbury, opens at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. Although the production only runs for 132 performances, Lansbury will win a Tony Award for her performance.

1974 Chez Nous, Peter Nichols' play highlights changing sexual mores. It stars Albert Finney, Denholm Elliott and Geraldine McEwan at London's Globe Theatre. It will run this season and into the next.

1979 Tommy plays at the Queen's Theatre in London. Music is provided by Pete Townshend and The Who, with direction by Paul Tomlinson and John Hole. Allan Love stars. The show will play 118 times. In 1993, Townshend, director Des McAnuff and choreographer Wayne Cilento will turn The Who's Tommy into a full-fledged Broadway musical.

2002 Elaine Stritch's sold-out Public Theater solo show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty moves to Broadway. It will go on to win the 2002 Tony Award for Best Special Event.

2003 Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg stars with Charles S. Dutton in a Broadway revival of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. The opening comes after a disastrous preview period in which three actors were replaced, an actor suffered a burst blood vessel in his leg, and director Marion McClinton was hospitalized with kidney and blood pressure problems. The revival winds up lasting just 68 performances.

2009 James Whitmore, the Tony Award-winning and Oscar-nominated character actor, dies at age 87. Mr. Whitmore was widely respected for the one-man plays that he starred in on Broadway and around the country, including Give 'Em Hell, Harry, Bully and Will Rogers' USA.

2012 "Smash," an hour-long musical drama series created by playwright Theresa Rebeck, premieres on NBC. The first season chronicles the creation of fictional Marilyn Monroe musical Bombshell, and features original songs written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Today's Birthdays: Henry Irving 1838. Ramon Novarro 1899. Zsa Zsa Gabor 1916. Rip Torn 1931. Kathy Najimy 1957.