PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: MARCH 23

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Ernio Hernandez and Anne Bradley
March 23, 2014

1940 It's Separate Rooms for an actress who'd rather sleep with her pet Chihuahua than her playwright husband. Glenda Farrell and Lyle Talbot are the twosome. This comedy by Alan Dinehart and Joseph Carole will run 613 performances.



1964 Actor Peter Lorre dies today in Hollywood. Known mainly as a film actor, in the 1950s the German-born actor appeared at several theatres doing monologues and poetry readings. He was 60 years old.

1966 Hal Holbrook opens at Broadway's Longacre Theatre in Mark Twain Tonight!. Holbrook toured widely with this show since it was first produced in 1959 Off-Broadway. This production will run for nine weeks. Holbrook will return to Broadway with revivals of Mark Twain Tonight! in 1977 and 2005.

1971 This downtown One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest soars more successfully than its earlier Broadway flight. Kirk Douglas starred in that short-lived production of the Ken Kesey novel. William Devane heads this cast in Dale Wasserman's revised adaptation. It will run for 1,025 performances at the Mercer-Hansberry Theatre in Greenwich Village.

1994 Two years after the infamous riots following the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles, Anna Deavere Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 opens Off Broadway at the Joseph Papp Public Theater. The text of this dateline drama is taken from interviews she had with people directly or indirectly involved in the case. The play, which premiered at the Center Theatre Group/ Mark Taper Forum, will transfer to Broadway following its runs at NJ's McCarter Theatre and the Public.

1995 Matthew Broderick teaches Broadway How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying as the Frank Loesser musical is revived at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Broderick will win the Tony for his performance then be 'succeed'ed by John Stamos for a brief stint before returning to close the show July 14, 1996 with his real-life sweetheart (and future wife) Sarah Jessica Parker.

2000 Disney increases the number of musicals it has running on Broadway to three, as Aida opens at the Palace Theatre. Adam Pascal, Sherie Rene Scott and Heather Headley star. Despite not being nominated for Best Musical, Aida will win four Tony Awards includes ones for Headley's performance, and for Elton John and Tim Rice's score.

2003 The film version of the musical Chicago wins six Oscars including Best Picture at the 75th Anniversary Academy Awards. The win marks the first time a movie musical has taken home the Best Picture Oscar in more than three decades ("Oliver!" was the last, in 1968). Other Oscars for the film include Catherine Zeta-Jones for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of killer showgirl Velma Kelly. (Zeta-Jones was nominated in a category that also included her "Chicago" co-star, Queen Latifah.)

2011 Elizabeth Taylor, a movie star who for a half-century was as famous for her personal attractiveness and sensational personal life as she was for her many films, dies at the age of 79. Her Broadway appearances included revivals of The Little Foxes and Private Lives.

Today's Birthdays: Clarence Derwent 1884. Amanda Plummer 1957. Hope Davis 1964. Melissa Errico 1970.