PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: MARCH 16

By Robert Viagas
and David Lefkowitz and Anne Bradley
March 16, 2014

1914 Female impersonator Julian Eltinge is lyricist and star of The Crinoline Girl. Otto Hauerbach provides the book and Percy Wenrich the score. S/he'll twirl at the Knickerbocker Theatre for 11 weeks.



1918 Actor-manager Sir George Alexander dies in London at age 60. His most popular role was the lead in The Prisoner of Zenda. In 1889 he took his own theatre and began producing the plays of Oscar Wilde and Arthur Wing Pinero.

1922 Phileas Fogg is asked to go Round in Fifty instead of 80 days. This musical will run at London's Hippodrome for 471 performances. Circling the globe are Renee Reel, George Robey, and Wallace and Barry Lupino.

1933 Right around the Three-Cornered Moon is a family who loses its money and doesn't know how to work. Ruth Gordon and Brian Donlevy are in the cast of this Gertrude Tokonogy comedy. It will run nearly 10 weeks at the Cort Theatre.

1948 An unusual double-bill of one-acts opens at the Cort Theatre: Thornton Wilder's The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden and Jean-Paul Sartre's The Respectful Prostitute. It runs a respectable 318 performances.

1969 The Great White Way turns red, white and blue when 1776 opens at the 46th Street Theatre. The musical, with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and book by Peter Stone about the Declaration of Independence, stars Howard Da Silva, William Daniels, Ken Howard and, making her Broadway debut, Betty Buckley.

1997 Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive opens at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre and stars Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse. The play will transfer to the Century Theatre and win the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (as it was not eligible for the 1997 award owing to a scheduling technicality.) Despite the award, the show closed as scheduled, four days after winning, on April 19, 1998.

2000 After years of international touring and even a TV broadcast, the Celtic dance revue Riverdance opens at the Gershwin Theatre under the title Riverdance - on Broadway, and runs 605 performances.

2003 Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks opens first new drama since winning the Pulitzer Prize the previous year, but many newspapers refuse to print the title. Fucking A, her new take on Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," opens at the Public Theater's Anspacher Theater space, with a cast that includes Mos Def, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Bobby Cannavale. Michael Greif directs.

Today's Birthdays: Elsie Janis 1889. Conrad Nagel 1897. Henny Youngman 1906. Leo McKern 1920. Jerry Lewis 1926. Sheila Bond 1928. Victor Garber 1949. Kate Nelligan 1951. Alan Tudyk 1971.