PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: JANUARY 24

1776 Birthday of E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822), whose stories formed the basis of the ballets Coppelia and The Nutcracker.

1905 Opening night of Buster Brown, based on Richard F. Outcault's comic strip about a kid and his dog. It runs 95 performances at the old Majestic Theatre.

1929 Edith Evans stars as Florence Nightingale, The Lady With a Lamp. This drama by Reginald Berkeley will run at the Garrick Theatre in London for 22 weeks.

1933 U.S. premiere of Noel Coward's Design for Living, in which he co-stars with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Depression-era audiences are scandalized and titillated by the story of a menage a trois. It runs 135 performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

1944 Standing in the shadows is The Duke in Darkness. Patrick Hamilton's tale of a duke who feigns blindness while imprisoned will run for three weeks at the Playhouse Theatre in New York.

1971 Irish playwright and critic St. John Ervine dies today in London. Among his numerous plays are Mixed Marriage, John Ferguson and The First Mrs. Fraser. He was eighty-eight years old. 1979 Mabel Taliaferro, a stage veteran of numerous shows including George Washington Slept Here, dies today at age 91.

2000 Cherry Jones and Gabriel Byrne star in Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten at Chicago's Goodman Theater, to be followed by a run at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theater. The production will receive four 2000 Tony Award nominations and one win for Roy Dotrice (Best Featured Actor in a Play).

2006 Chita Rivera reunites with Bye Bye Birdie co-star Dick Van Dyke for the first of four special performances of her show, Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life.

2006 Fayard Nicholas, the surviving half of the athletic tap duo of stage and screen known as The Nicholas Brothers, and a Tony Award winning choreographer for Black and Blue, dies of pneumonia and other complications of a stroke at age 91.

2008 S. Epatha Merkerson plays a woman trying to cope with loneliness, longing and an alcoholic husband ( Kevin Anderson) in a revival of William Inge's 1950 drama Come Back, Little Sheba that opens today at the Biltmore Theatre.

2010 Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson star in Gregory Mosher’s revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, about a Brooklyn longshoreman who loves his teen-aged niece a little bit too much.

More of Today's Birthdays: Pierre Augustin Beaumarchais 1732. Estelle Winwood 1883. Vicki Baum 1888. Ernest Borgnine 1917. Donald Saddler 1918. Helen Stenborg 1925. Maria Tallchief 1925. Carrie Coon 1981.