Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 24

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 24
Don Ameche and Hildegarde Neff in Silk Stockings.
Don Ameche and Hildegarde Neff in Silk Stockings. Friedman-Abeles/The New York Public Library

1876 Birthday of Broadway comedian Victor Moore, who stars or co-stars in the original casts of many musical comedies, notably Of Thee I Sing, Anything Goes, Louisiana Purchase, Leave It to Me!, and Oh, Kay!.

1925 Birthday of costume designer Patricia Zipprodt who creates the clothes for many Broadway classics, including Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, 1776, Pippin, Chicago, Sunday in the Park With George, and Into the Woods.

1930 Tom Powers stars as a King who threatens to abdicate and upset The Apple Cart. George Bernard Shaw penned the comedy, which runs for 11 weeks at the Martin Beck and Alvin Theatres in New York. The cast includes Claude Rains and Morris Carnovsky. Philip Moeller provides the direction.

1934 Sidney Howard's adaptation of Sinclair Lewis' novel Dodsworth runs at the Shubert for 315 performances. Walter Huston stars with Fay Bainter and Nan Sunderland.

1955 Ninotchka slips into Silk Stockings at the Imperial Theatre. The transformation into a musical is the handiwork of Cole Porter, George S. Kaufman, Leueen MacGrath, and Abe Burrows. Hildegarde Neff and Don Ameche star. Cy Feuer stages the 478-performance run.

1956 Hugh Griffith and Beatrix Lehmann tread through The Waltz of the Toreadors at London's Arts Theatre. Peter Hall directs Lucienne Hill's translation of the Jean Anouilh comedy.

1980 Brian Clark's Whose Life is it Anyway?, which played the Trafalgar Theatre (now the Nederlander) in 1979, returns to Broadway in a revised production at the Royale Theatre. While Tom Conti starred in the original production as Ken Harrison, the new production changes the role to Claire Harrison, and stars Mary Tyler Moore.

1999 Director Michael Greif's production of Paul Scott Goodman's Bright Lights, Big City opens Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, where Greif directed Rent in 1996. The musical is based on the Jay McInerney novel about a writer who hedonistically plows through New York City high life in 1984. Patrick Wilson makes his New York debut as the lead.

2004 John Randolph, the accomplished character actor whose career included Broadway collaborations with Orson Welles and the Lunts, as well as a Tony Award-winning performance as cranky, opinionated grandfather Ben in Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, dies at age 88.

2006 Don Knotts, the TV, film, and stage actor who capitalized on a persona of the nervous, bumbling boob in The Andy Griffith Show and Three's Company, dies at age 81. He appeared on Broadway with Griffith in No Time for Sergeants.

2012 Theodore Mann, who, as the co-founder of Circle in the Square, was one of the foremost figures in the birth of the Off-Broadway theatre movement, dies at age 87. Along with Circle in the Square co-founder José Quintero, Mann produced landmark revivals of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke (starring Geraldine Page) and Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh (starring Jason Robards, Jr.), as well as the Broadway premiere of Long Day's Journey Into Night.

2012 Howard Kissel, a critic who covered New York's theatre scene for nearly four decades, dies at age 69. For half of his long career, Kissel's primary perch was The Daily News, where he worked for 20 years, most of them as the chief theatre critic. He also served as chairman of both the New York Film Critics Circle and the New York Drama Critics Circle; sat on the drama jury for the Pulitzer Prize; and wrote The Abominable Showman, a biography of producer David Merrick.

2014 The world premiere of David Henry Hwang's Kung Fu, which follows international icon Bruce Lee's journey from troubled Hong Kong youth to martial arts legend, opens Off-Broadway at the the Pershing Square Signature Center's Irene Diamond Stage. Cole Horibe stars in the production that blends dance, Chinese opera, martial arts, and drama.

More of Today's Birthdays: James W. Wallack, Jr. 1818. Abe Vigoda 1921. Richard B. Shull 1929. Michel Legrand 1932. James Farentino 1938. Jenny O'Hara 1942. Barry Bostwick 1945. Rupert Holmes 1947.

Watch highlights from the 2012 Broadway revival of Rupert Holmes' The Mystery of Edwin Drood:

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