Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 3

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 3
Happy birthday, Nathan Lane.
Nathan Lane, Brad Aspel, Cory English, and Ray Roderick in <i>A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.</i>
Nathan Lane, Brad Aspel, Cory English, and Ray Roderick in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Joan Marcus

1938 When a grandfather holds off Death (by chasing him up a tree) so he can be sure his grandson will be taken care of, he's working On Borrowed Time. The comedy was adapted by Paul Osborn from Lawrence Edward Watkin's novel of the same title. Dudley Digges stars as Gramps, Peter Holden is his grandson, and Frank Conroy is the Grim Reaper.

1951 Maureen Stapleton is a lonely widow pining for her dead husband in The Rose Tattoo. The Tennessee Williams work also stars Eli Wallach, Sal Mineo, and Martin Balsam. It runs 38 weeks.

1956 Broadway musical comedy leading man Nathan Lane is born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He will go on to win Tony Awards for his performances as Max Bialystock in The Producers, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Roy Cohn in Angels in America, and is nominated for The Front Page, The Nance, and Guys and Dolls. He also collaborates with Stephen Sondheim on the musical The Frogs, and lends his voice to Timon the Meerkat in the animated Disney film The Lion King.

1960 The Wrong Side of the Park might also be the wrong side of marriage in John Mortimer's drama. Staged by Peter Hall at London's Cambridge Theatre, Margaret Leighton stars as a neurotic wife tormenting her husband (Richard Johnson) with a fantasy of her deceased first spouse. It runs nearly 22 weeks.

1976 Opening night for A Matter of Gravity starring Katharine Hepburn and Christopher Reeve. Enid Bagnold's drama runs 79 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

1982 James Earl Jones stars as Othello at the Winter Garden Theatre, opposite Christopher Plummer as Iago. The production was first seen the previous summer at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut. Also in the cast are Dianne Wiest as Desdemona and Kelsey Grammer as Cassio.

2005 Pulitzer winner Donald Margulies' latest play, Brooklyn Boy, opens on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre. Adam Arkin, Polly Draper, and Ari Graynor are featured in the drama about a man who returns to his childhood neighborhood after becoming a famous novelist.

2012 Ben Gazzara, an intense actor of stage and film who created the role of Brick in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, dies at age 81. He was nominated for Tony Awards for his performances in A Hatful of Rain, Hughie / Duet, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

More of Today's Birthdays: James A. Michener (1907-1997). Robert Earl Jones (1910-2006). Bibi Osterwald (1920-2002). Blythe Danner (b. 1943). Linda Eder (b. 1961). Ann Harada (b. 1964). Ashley Brown (b. 1982).

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