Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 26

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 26
In 1989, Jerome Robbins' Broadway opens at the Imperial Theatre.
A scene from Jerome Robbins' Broadway
A scene from Jerome Robbins' Broadway Martha Swope

1911 Chicago's Columbia Theatre opens its doors. Architect J.E.O. Pridmore designed the house which seats 1,550. In 1923 it becomes the Adelphi. In 1974 its doors close for demolition.

1947 English actor Ben Webster dies in Hollywood. He appeared in acting companies with the likes of Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. He came to America in 1939. His last Broadway appearance was as Lord Montague in Romeo and Juliet with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. He was married to Dame May Whitty and father of director Margaret Webster.

1948 Gertrude Berg writes and stars in Me and Molly, a comedy based on her long-running radio show, The Goldbergs. It runs 156 performances at the Belasco Theatre.

1960 Burgess Meredith stages A Thurber Carnival with Thurber's sketches in words and cartoons. The cast includes Paul Ford, Peggy Cass, John McGiver, Alice Ghostley, and Tom Ewell. It initially runs 16 weeks, and then re-open September 5 for an additional 12 weeks.

1962 Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad, stars Austin Pendleton as the poor son in Arthur Kopit's comedy. Jerome Robbins stages Off-Broadway at the Phoenix Theatre for 454 performances. When the production closes, it heads to the road for an eleven week tour, and then opens on Broadway.

1975 Singer-songwriter Harry Chapin stars in The Night That Made America Famous, a revue of his songs at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The supporting cast includes Harry's brothers Tom Chapin and Stephen Chapin, as well as Lynne Thigpen. It runs 47 performances.

1978 Ira Levin's Deathtrap opens at the Music Box Theatre, starring John Wood, Victor Garber, and Marian Seldes. It plays 1,793 performances, the longest Broadway run ever for a murder mystery. Seldes earns an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records after not missing a single performance of the play's run.

1989 Director-choreographer Jerome Robbins revisits his career as his Jerome Robbins' Broadway opens at Broadway's Imperial Theatre. The cast includes Jason Alexander, Faith Prince, Scott Wise, Debbie Gravitte, and Charlotte d'Amboise. It wins the Tony for Best Musical, and runs 633 performances.

1999 José Quintero, the Panama-born director who won a Tony Award as Best Director for A Moon for the Misbegotten, dies at age 74. Known for his revivals of works by Eugene O'Neill, he also directed Broadway productions of Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh. On May 2, 2000 the Kaufman Theatre on 42nd Street is officially re-christened the José Quintero Theatre.

2003 With only a few days remaining until a March 2 contract expiration between their union and Broadway producers, Broadway pit musicians gather outside Broadway theatres to pass out literature explaining their grievances. Within days, they go on strike.

2004 Alfred Molina stars in a Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, directed by David Leveaux. It runs 781 performances, with Harvey Fierstein taking over the role of Tevye the following year.

2013 Manhattan Theatre Club's world premiere production of Liz Flahive's The Madrid, starring Edie Falco as a mother and teacher who sheds her life and moves to a rundown apartment building, opens Off-Broadway at New York City Center Stage I.

2019 Alice By Heart, the new musical from Spring Awakening creators Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater and Waitress book writer Jessie Nelson, has its New York premiere Off-Broadway at MCC Theater. The show re-sets Lewis Carroll's story in World War II London, following teenagers Alice Spencer (Molly Godron) and her dear friend Alfred (Colton Ryan) as they journey down the rabbit hole in an attempt to escape their harsh, violent realities.

Today's Birthdays: Victor Hugo (1802-1885). William Frawley (1887-1966). Robert Alda (1914-1986). Jackie Gleason (1916-1987). Mason Adams (1919-2005). Tony Randall (1920-2004). Betty Hutton (1921-2007). Godfrey Cambridge (1933-1976). Priscilla Lopez (b. 1948). Michael Cumpsty 1960.

Flip through photos from the 2004 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof:

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