Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 5

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 5
Chita Rivera, Donald O'Connor, and Maurice Hines in Bring Back Birdie.
Chita Rivera, Donald O'Connor, and Maurice Hines in Bring Back Birdie. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1908 Actor Rex Harrison is born. He makes his London debut in Florence Kilpatrick's Getting George Married, and later stars in the London production of Noël Coward's Design for Living. Among his numerous productions in London and on Broadway, he is best known for his portrayal of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.

1948 Birthday of British musical comedy star Elaine Paige, who creates roles in the original London productions of Evita, Chess, and Cats.

1969 What the Butler Saw stands exposed at the Queen's Theatre in London. Joe Orton's black comedy stars Ralph Richardson and Coral Browne. It runs 101 performances.

1974 John Gielgud is Prospero in the National Theatre production of The Tempest . Peter Hall directs the production at London's Old Vic.

1974 Actor Billy DeWolfe, 67, dies in Los Angeles. A longtime vaudeville performer, he toured with his own act, DeWolfe and Kindler. In 1953, he appeared in John Murray Anderson's Almanac.

1978 Carol Channing reprises the role of Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, which she originated in 1964, in a revival of Hello, Dolly! at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. She reprises the role once again at the same theatre 17 years later.

1981 Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, and Michael Stewart revisit the characters from their hit musical Bye Bye Birdie with the sequel Bring Back Birdie, opening at the Martin Beck Theatre. Despite the return of Chita Rivera in the role of Rose, the show fails to live up to its predecessor, and closes after 4 performances.

1989 Hizzoner!, starring Tony Lo Bianco as New York mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, closes faster than burlesque. After opening February 24, Paul Shyre's monodrama closes after 12 performances.

1991 At the Westside Arts Theatre Off-Broadway, some budding talent emerges at the opening of And the World Goes 'Round, a musical revue featuring the songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb. The production was conceived by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman, and David Thompson, and stars Robert Cuccioli, Karen Mason, and Karen Ziemba.

2002 Alan Manson dies at age 83. The Broadway actor left the stage for the armed forces in World War II and landed a gig in the wartime show This Is the Army. He later played Ziegfeld to Streisand's Funny Girl on Broadway.

2004 London stage star Elaine Paige makes a rare New York appearance, playing Mrs. Lovett in the New York City Opera production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd opposite Mark Delavan.

2005 Jim Tyler, a Broadway orchestrator who created the brassy sound of La Cage aux Folles, and worked on many more musicals, dies at age 76.

2012 Jane Alexander is the enigmatic title character in Edward Albee's The Lady From Dubuque, the inaugural production at the Pershing Square Signature Center's End Stage Theatre. David Esbjornson directs the production, which also stars Laila Robins, Michael Hayden, and Peter Francis James.

2012 Robert B. Sherman, the American songwriter who, with his brother Richard, wrote the cheerful and upbeat scores to several memorable family films—most notably Mary Poppins—dies at age 86. Together, the Sherman brothers composed such infectious, good-natured anthems as "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Let's Go Fly a Kite," "Step in Time," "Toots Sweet," and "Me Ol' Bamboo." Their music has been heard on Broadway in Over Here!, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Mary Poppins.

2013 The West End premiere of Peter Morgan's The Audience, starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, opens at the Gielgud Theatre. Stephen Daldry directs the play, which imagines a series of pivotal meetings between Her Majesty the Queen and various prime ministers. The production transfers to Broadway two years later.

2015 Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David's dysfunctional family comedy Fish in the Dark opens on Broadway at the Cort Theatre. David also stars in the play, opposite Rita Wilson, Jayne Houdyshell, Rosie Perez, and Marylouise Burke.

More of Today's Birthdays Jack Cassidy 1927. Warner LeRoy 1935. Charles Fuller 1939. Michael Gore 1951. Penn Jillette 1955.

Watch highlights from The Audience, starring Helen Mirren:

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