PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: JANUARY 11
By David Gewirtzman
1899 "I would rather play Ibsen than eat — and that's often what it amounts to," said Eva Le Gallienne, born in London today. Her determination and drive will lead her to a stage debut in Monna Vanna at the Queen's Theatre in London in 1914; her Broadway debut will take place one year later in the comedy Mrs. Boltay's Daughters. She will appear in countless shows, and in 1937 will play Hamlet with Uta Hagen as her Ophelia. In 1926 she will found the Civic Repertory Theatre with the motto "Theatre should be an instrument for giving, not a machinery for getting."
1927 Opening night of the musical Piggy, by Lew Brown and Cliff Friend, based on the play The Rich Mr. Hoggenheimer. This show, which ran 83 performances at the Royale Theatre, is one of the few musicals in history that decided to change its title after opening night. The new monicker: I Told You So.
1936 English actor-producer Ian Robertson is dead at the age of 76. While in America he acted with Edwin Booth, Modjeska, and the Frohmans, among others. He was stage manager and producer at the Boston Museum Theatre. He also wrote several plays.
1952 John Gielgud directs and stars in Much Ado About Nothing at London's Phoenix Theatre. It will do — for a seven-month run. Also in the cast are Dorothy Tutin and Paul Scofield.
1964 In celebration of William Shakespeare's Quartercentenary, the Royal Shakespeare Company plays its three-part War of the Roses at London's Aldwych Theatre.
1976 Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures opens tonight at the Winter Garden Theatre. The musical uses a Kabuki-like staging and elements of Eastern music. Harold Prince directs an Asian-American cast.
1979 Joel Grey and Ronald Holgate star in the opening night of Jerry Herman's flop musical The Grand Tour, which ran 61 performances at the Palace Theatre. It was based on the play, Jacobowsky and the Colonel.
2000 Broadway's Belasco Theater welcomes the transfer of James Joyce's The Dead from Off Broadway. The show boasts a book by Richard Nelson (who won a Tony for it), music by Shaun Davey, and lyrics adapted by Shaun Davey and Richard Nelson. Featured in the cast are Christopher Walken, Blair Brown, Emily Skinner, Alice Ripley and Stephen Spinella.
2009 Tom O'Horgan, the Drama Desk Award-winning, Tony-nominated director who brought a downtown ethic to his Broadway projects, including the original Broadway productions of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, dies at age 84.
More of Today's Birthdays: Alan Paton 1903. Ruth Goetz 1912. Mary Rodgers 1931. Joel Zwick 1942. Stanley Tucci 1960.
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