PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: MARCH 30

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas and Anne Bradley
March 30, 2014

1858 Birthday of DeWolf Hopper (1858-1935), vaudeville comedian and musical comedy star, who was featured in Wang, Hoity-Toity and many early Gilbert & Sullivan productions. His signature bit was a dramatic recitation of "Casey at the Bat," which he reported did more than 10,000 times.



1924 Librettist Glen MacDonough dies today in Stamford Connecticut. He started his career as a journalist on the New York World. Later he worked with Victor Herbert on Babes in Toyland. He was 57 years old.

1946 Although protested by some cast members over demeaning stereotypes, St. Louis Woman will run 113 performances. Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer collaborate on this all-black musical. The powerhouse cast includes the Nicholas Brothers, Pearl Bailey in her Broadway debut, and Juanita Hall.

1970 Lauren Bacall hears the Applause. Betty Comden and Adolph Green adapt the film "All About Eve" at the Palace on Broadway. This musical is directed and choreographed by Ron Field. It will run 896 performances and win a Tony Award for Best Musical.

1972 Phil Silvers, who originally turned down the role of Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, only to take the role of Marcus Lycus in the film, finally gets to play the wily slave in a revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical. He will win the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for what will turn out to be his final Broadway role.

1978 Christopher Durang makes his Broadway debut today with A History of the American Film, which manages to spoof dozens of film classics. It runs just 21 performances at the ANTA Theatre.

1980 Mark Medoff's Children of a Lesser God, which tells the story of a romance betwee a deaf woman and a hearing man, opens today en route to an 887-performance run and a Tony Award as Best Play. Lead Phyllis Frelich, who is deaf in real life, will win the Tony as Best Actress in a Play.

1982 John Pielmeier's Agnes of God takes over the Music Box Theatre on Broadway. Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Ashley, and Amanda Plummer are the threesome in this drama that unfolds over the body of a murdered baby. Plummer will go on to win the Tony Award.

1998 When Danny Hoch, writer-performer of Some People, tried out his newer work at Off-Off Broadway's Performance Space 122 in March of 1997, he hoped to hone the show on the road and bring it back to New York. And that's just what has happened as his solo-show, Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop, returns today to PS 122 for a run through April 18.

2000 Susan Stroman's dance piece, Contact opens today at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. It will run 1010 performances and win the Tony Award as Best Musical despite the fact that it has no original score and no musicians (dances are performed to taped tracks of pop and classical pieces).

2000 Also today, The Lion King, the 1998 Tony Award for best musical from Elton John and Tim Rice and directed by Julie Taymor, reaches its 1,000th performance at the New Amsterdam Theatre. The Lion King, based on the animated film of the same name, opened on Broadway Nov. 13, 1997.

2003 British comedians Sean Foley and Hamish McColl pay wacky tribute to forebears Morecambe and Wise in the imported hit The Play What I Wrote, a silly bit of clowning with an unusual gimmick: a different "Mystery Guest Star" each night. Among MGSs during the show's run: Nathan Lane, Kevin Kline and Roger Moore.

2008 Conor McPherson's play The Seafarer closes at the Booth Theatre after 133 performances. The play would garner a Best Play Tony nomination and win for Jim Norton a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.

2012 Judith of Bethulia, actor-playwright Charles Busch's latest stage comedy that takes on the 1914 silent Hollywood Biblical epic, begins a limited run at the Theater for the New City. Carl Andress directs a cast that includes Busch (in the title role), Mary Testa and Jennifer Cody.

More of Today's Birthdays: Sean O'Casey 1880. Anne Pitoniak 1922. Richard A. Dysart 1929. John Astin 1930. George Morfogen 1933. Rex Robbins 1935. Warren Beatty 1937. Dennis Parlato 1947.