Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 11

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 11
 
In 1976, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Pacific Overtures opens on Broadway.
A scene from the original Broadway production of Pacific Overtures.
A scene from the original Broadway production of Pacific Overtures. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1899 "I would rather play Ibsen than eat—and that's often what it amounts to," said Eva Le Gallienne, born in London today. Her determination and drive lead her to a stage debut in Monna Vanna at the Queen's Theatre in London in 1914; her Broadway debut takes place one year later in the comedy Mrs. Boltay's Daughters. She appears in countless shows, and in 1937 plays Hamlet with Uta Hagen as her Ophelia. In 1926 she founds the Civic Repertory Theatre with the motto "Theatre should be an instrument for giving, not a machinery for getting."

1927 Opening night of the musical Piggy, by Lew Brown and Cliff Friend, based on the play The Rich Mr. Hoggenheimer. The show runs at the Royale Theatre and is one of the few musicals in history that decided to change its title after opening night. The new moniker: I Told You So.

1952 John Gielgud directs and stars in Much Ado About Nothing at London's Phoenix Theatre. Also in the cast are Dorothy Tutin and Paul Scofield.

1964 In celebration of William Shakespeare's Quartercentenary, the Royal Shakespeare Company plays its three-part War of the Roses at London's Aldwych Theatre.

1976 Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Pacific Overtures opens at the Winter Garden Theatre. The musical uses a Kabuki-like staging and elements of Eastern music. Harold Prince directs an Asian-American cast.

1979 Joel Grey and Ron Holgate star in the opening night of Jerry Herman's musical The Grand Tour, which runs at the Palace Theatre. It was based on the play, Jacobowsky and the Colonel.

1996 Frank Langella stars in The Father at Criterion Center Stage Right. Adapted by Richard Nelson from August Strindberg's 1887 Swedish play of the same name.

2000 Broadway's Belasco Theatre welcomes the transfer of James Joyce's The Dead from Off-Broadway. The musical boasts a book by Richard Nelson (who wins a Tony for it), music by Shaun Davey, and lyrics adapted by Nelson and Davey. Featured in the cast are Christopher Walken, Blair Brown, Emily Skinner, Alice Ripley, and Stephen Spinella.

2009 Tom O'Horgan, the Drama Desk Award-winning, Tony-nominated director who brought a downtown ethic to his Broadway projects, including the original Broadway productions of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, dies at age 84.

2016 David Margulies, an actor who successfully moved back and forth from stage to TV to film with memorable portraits of harried ethnic characters, dies at age 78. Margulies made 13 appearances on Broadway from The Iceman Cometh in 1973 to Wonderful Town in 2003.

2018 Tony and Emmy winner John Lithgow opens a solo show, Stories By Heart, at Roundabout's American Airlines Theatre. In two acts, the performer traces his roots as a storyteller, working in classic short stories by P. G. Wodehouse and Ring Lardner that were read to him as a child.

More of Today's Birthdays: Hamtree Harrington (1886–1954), Eva Le Gallienne (1899–1991), Alan Paton (1903–1988), Ruth Goetz (1912–2001), Dorothy Jeakins (1914–1995), Ed Hall (1931–1991) Mary Rodgers (1931–2014), Joel Zwick (b. 1942), Alyson Reed (b. 1958), Sharon Catherine Brown (b. 1962), Max von Essen (b. 1974), Tamika Lawrence (b. 1987)

Flip through photos from Max von Essen's stage appearances:

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