Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 4

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 4
Martin Short, Bernadette Peters, and Tammy Minoff in The Goodbye Girl
Martin Short, Bernadette Peters, and Tammy Minoff in The Goodbye Girl Martha Swope/The New York Public Library

1922 Eugene O'Neill's drama The First Man describes the strange tale of a scientist who curses the unborn child in his wife's womb. The wife dies in childbirth and the child thrives. Augustin Duncan stages and stars. There are 27 performances at the Neighborhood Playhouse.

1922 Comedian and song-writer Bert Williams, 46, dies in New York. Along with George Walker they formed a popular vaudeville team in 1895. In 1902, Williams wrote and produced In Dahomey, the first full-length Broadway musical written and performed by African Americans. After Walker died, Williams joined the Ziegfeld Follies.

1933 Jimmy Durante and Lupe Velez star in the musical revue Strike Me Pink, which opens a 105-performance run at the Majestic Theatre. The show has music and lyrics by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson. Three years later, Eddie Cantor and Ethel Merman star in a film adaptation that replaces the stage songs with new ones written by Lew Brown and Harold Arlen.

1952 The Vortex by Noël Coward is revived at London's Lyric, Hammersmith. Among the cast are Adrianne Allen, Isabel Jeans, and Dirk Bogarde.

1969 Guess there wasn't a right way to fix The Wrong Way Light Bulb, opening tonight. The play by Leonard Spigelgass closes at the John Golden Theatre after only seven performances. James Patterson, Barnard Hughes, Miriam Colon, and Claudia McNeil star.

1993 Marvin Hamlisch and David Zippel team up to create The Goodbye Girl, which opens at Broadway's Marquis Theatre. The musical, based on the 1977 Neil Simon screenplay, stars Martin Short and Bernadette Peters. Six years later, Peters opens at the same theatre with...

1999 ...a revival of Annie Get Your Gun, which hits the Broadway bullseye. Bernadette Peters stars with Tom Wopat in the Irving Berlin musical, directed by Graciela Daniele. The show's original book, written by Herbert Fields and Dorothy Fields, is updated by Peter Stone, with the politically incorrect songs "I'm An Indian, Too" and "I'm A Bad, Bad Man" excised.

2002 Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses, based on Ovid's tales, makes a splash on Broadway at its opening night, performed in and around a pool of water that takes up most of the stage at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Zimmerman wins a Tony Award for her direction.

2004 The musical Mamma Mia! celebrates its 1,000th performance on Broadway. Days later the show's cast album is certified platinum.

2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Horton Foote dies at age 92. Foote's plays include Only the Heart, Six O'Clock Theatre, The Chase, Two's Company, The Trip to Bountiful, The Traveling Lady, The Young Man From Atlanta, Dividing the Estate, and The Orphans' Home Cycle. He wrote many teleplays in the Golden Age of TV (his famous The Trip to Bountiful began as a TV play in 1952), and won two Academy Awards.

2010 The world-premiere of Martin McDonagh's A Behanding in Spokane opens on Broadway at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Christopher Walken, Zoe Kazan, Anthony Mackie, and Sam Rockwell star in the play about a man who has been searching for his lost hand for more than 40 years.

2016 Carnegie Hall presents a large-scale revival of West Side Story at the Knockdown Center, a restored 50,000-square-foot factory located in Queens. The production features a cast of nearly 50, and a 200-person chorus. Skylar Astin stars as Tony, opposite Morgan Hernandez as Maria.

Today's Birthdays: Robert Emmett Keane 1883. John Garfield 1913. Keith Charles 1934. Paula Prentiss 1939. Romain Frugé 1959. Steven Weber 1961. Laura Michelle Kelly 1981.

Watch highlights from the 2016 revival of West Side Story:

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