Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 15

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 15
In 1950, Shirley Booth stars in Come Back, Little Sheba.
Shirley Booth and Sidney Blackmer in Come Back, Little Sheba.
Shirley Booth and Sidney Blackmer in Come Back, Little Sheba.

1905 Birthday of composer Harold Arlen, a cantor's son who cut his musical teeth in 1920's Harlem, and went on to write music for Broadway shows Star and Garter, Jamaica, House of Flowers, and Saratoga, as well as for the MGM film musical The Wizard of Oz.

1923 Gerald du Maurier and Tallulah Bankhead are featured in The Dancers at Wyndham's Theatre in London. Hubert Parson penned the romance of a dance hall proprietor who inherits a title and fortune but never forgets his true love.

1933 One Sunday Afternoon stars Lloyd Nolan and Francesca Bruning as plain people struggling through hard times. James Hagan's drama runs first at the Little Theatre, and then at the 48th Street Theatre.

1939 Lillian Hellman forages the old South and comes up with The Little Foxes. Tallulah Bankhead leads the cast in the drama that runs at the National Theatre in New York.

1950 Before TV's Hazel typecast her as a frumpy maid, Shirley Booth won a Tony for starring in William Inge's drama Come Back, Little Sheba. Co-star Sidney Blackmer also takes home a Tony for the Theatre Guild production. Best Play, however, goes to T.S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party. Two years later, Booth repeats her performance as Lola in a film adaptation of the play, winning her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

1998 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS presents its first annual Broadway Bears event. The fundraiser auctions off little stuffed bears designed to look like famous performers in theatre roles. Among the first ursines are a Barbra Streisand Funny Girl bear, a Carol Burnett Once Upon A Mattress bear, a Ben Vereen Pippin bear, and a Julie Andrews Victor/Victoria bear.

2007 A London revival of Boeing-Boeing starring Roger Allam, Francis de la Tour, and Mark Rylance opens at the Comedy Theatre. Matthew Warchus directs with Tamzin Outhwaite, Daisy Beaumont, and Michelle Gomez rounding out the cast. Warchus and Rylance moved with the production to Broadway in 2008, with the latter winning a Tony Award for his performance as Robert.

2017 The New York premiere of Man from Nebraska opens at Second Stage's Tony Kiser Theatre Off-Broadway. The Tracey Letts play (a Pulitizer Prize for Drama finalist in 2004) stars Reed Birney, Annette O’Toole, Nana Mensah, Max Gordon Moore, and Heidi Armbruster in a David Cromer-helmed production.

More of Today's Birthdays: Walter Donaldson (1893–1947), Harold Arlen (1905–1986), Cesar Romero (1907–1994), Kevin McCarthy (1914–2010), Vicki Cummings (1914–1969), Keene Curtis (1923–2002), Frank Dunlop (b. 1927), Claire Bloom (b. 1931), Paul Kandel (b. 1951), Jane Seymour (b. 1951), Bill T. Jones (b. 1952), Christopher McDonald (b. 1955), Olga Merediz (b. 1956)

Flip through photos from the NYC premiere of Man From Nebraska:

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