PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: SEPTEMBER 25

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and Ernio Hernandez, Robert Viagas and Sam Maher
25 Sep 2014

1928 Chee-Chee, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's musical about castration in ancient China, opens to searing reviews and goes on to close after just 31 performances, the team's shortest run.

1935 Winterset, Maxwell Anderson's verse drama about a man determined to find justice after his father was wrongfully executed, opens on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre. Starring Richard Bennett, Eduardo Ciannelli and Burgess Meredith, it will run 179 performances before heading on a national tour, and return to Broadway for an additional 16 performances after winning the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play. In response to the Pulitzer Prize being awarded to Idiot's Delight over Winterset, NY Times drama critic Brooks Atkinson writes "If Winterset does not mean more to the arts and the thought of the theatre today and tomorrow than Idiot's Delight — in short, if it is not a better play now and always — then, as John Anderson said in his celebrated renunciation of the Critics Circle award, 'I am Admiral Dewey.'"

1945 Despite reports of bad acting and poor production quality, the new Tennessee Williams and Donald Windham play, You Touched Me, opens tonight at the Booth Theatre, beginning a tepidly-reviewed run of 109 performances. Williams and Windham have written this play based on a D. H. Lawrence story for stars Montgomery Clift, Edmund Gwenn and Marianne Stewart.

1961 Frank Fay, the vaudevillian and star of Harvey, died today. The actor, who at one time was married to Barbara Stanwyck, was confined to a hospital the previous week in Santa Monica and deemed legally incompetent.

1963 John Osborne's Luther, the story of the priest who launched the Protestant Reformation, opens on Broadway, en route to a 211-performance run and the 1964 Tony Award as Best Play.



1963 Also today: Sammy Davis, Jr. is reported today in Variety as having turned down Laurence Olivier's offer to be Iago to his Othello. Davis feels he is just not ready for the dramatic demands of the role.

1979 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are the princes of Broadway tonight as their new musical, Evita, opens at the Broadway Theatre. This very successful musical will continue to run for 1,567 performances. Patti LuPone stars as Eva Peron, with Mandy Patinkin as Che Guevara, the quasi-narrator of the musical. Clive Barnes of the New York Post reports that "Evita is a stunning, exhilarating theatrical experience, especially if you don't think about it too much."

1997 Riverdance, the showcase of Irish dance and music that played sold-out engagements in Dublin and London in 1995 comes to New York for a third run starting tonight at Radio City Music Hall. The show, which had two runs in 1996, will return to the Manhattan venue once more in 1998 before finally restaging itself for an official Broadway run March 16, 2000 to Aug. 26, 2001.

2003 By a macabre coincidence, Edward Said, the Palestinian-born Columbia University professor who was the likely model for a character in the play Omnium Gatherum, dies today, the same day the Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros drama opens Off-Broadway. Said was 67, and suffered from leukemia.

2008 "Harry Potter" film star Daniel Radcliffe and Tony and Olivier Award winner Richard Griffiths star in a revival of Equus. Peter Shaffer's Tony winning drama tells the story of a psychiatrist (Griffiths) who becomes absorbed in the strange case of a young man (Radcliffe) who blinds a stable of horses.

2011 Perfect Crime, Warren Manzi’s long-running thriller that opened in 1987, celebrates its 10,000th performance Off-Broadway. The cast includes original cast member Catherine Russell, who has been with the show for 24 years, securing herself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

More of Today's Birthdays: Charles B. Cochran 1872. Harriet Hoctor 1905. Robert Wright 1914. Mark Hamill 1951. Christopher Reeve 1952. Jayne Houdyshell 1954. Michael McGrath 1957. Catherine Zeta-Jones 1969.