Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 30

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 30
Happy birthday to Norbert Leo Butz and Lena Hall.
Norbert Leo Butz in <i>My Fair Lady</i> and Lena Hall in <i>Hedwig and the Angry Inch</i>
Norbert Leo Butz in My Fair Lady and Lena Hall in Hedwig and the Angry Inch Joan Marcus

1911 Hugh Herbert Hipple is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After dropping two H's, he becomes suave actor Hugh Marlowe. In 1940 he appears in Elmer Rice's Flight To the West.

1917 Joe Darion, lyricist of Man of La Mancha, is born (the same day as his collaborator, see third entry for 1928). Darion also writes lyrics for Shinbone Alley and Illya Darling.

1928 It all becomes a Strange Interlude at the Golden Theatre. Eugene O'Neill's nine-act saga of Nina Leeds and the men in her life stars Lynn Fontanne. It runs 426 performances and wins the Pulitzer Prize.

1928 Producer/director Harold Prince is born. He receives a record 21 Tony Awards and serves as producer and/or director of Broadway classics Fiddler on the Roof, The Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Cabaret, Damn Yankees, Follies, A Little Night Music, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and many more.

1928 Also born today: Mitch Leigh, composer of Man of La Mancha.

1929 Beau Geste comes to life at His Majesty's Theatre in London. Charlton Mann and director Basil Dean adapted the play from the novel by P.C. Wren. Laurence Olivier is Beau guarding Fort Zindernauf until the last.

1935 Opening night for George Abbott's gambling comedy Three Men on a Horse, starring Garson Kanin, Shirley Booth, Sam Levene, and Teddy Hart. It runs 835 performances.

1936 Picking up where her late husband Florenz Ziegfeld left off, Billie Burke produces the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 with Bob Hope, Fanny Brice, Josephine Baker, Eve Arden, and Judy Canova. It runs 227 performances at the Winter Garden.

1957 Eugenia, starring Tallulah Bankhead, opens at the Ambassador Theatre. The Randolph Carter adaptation of Henry James' novel The Europeans plays only 12 performances. Herbert Machiz provides the direction.

1958 Franklin Roosevelt's life at the family retreat of Campobello Island, Maine, is dramatized in Dore Schary's Sunrise at Campobello, which runs 556 performances at the Cort Theatre. Ralph Bellamy plays FDR. Also in the cast in a minor role: James Earl Jones.

1986 The Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker opens at Circle in the Square, where it runs for 45 performances. The cast features Gary Sinise, Jeff Perry, and Alan Wilder.

2006 Wendy Wasserstein, who dramatized the progress of her generation of women through a series of comic and rueful plays, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Heidi Chronicles, dies of lymphoma at age 55.

2011 Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, a rarely seen title about a wealthy, aging Southern eccentric barking her memoirs to a secretary as a harbinger of death climbs up the hill, opens Off-Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Laura Pels Theatre. Olympia Dukakis stars as widow Flora Goforth.

2015 Geraldine McEwan, a well-respected actor of the British stage who was adept at both comedy and drama, and who may be best known as the Agatha Christie detective Miss Marple in a series of BBC films, dies at age 82. McEwan performed at early incarnations of both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Old Woman in a 1998 Broadway revival of The Chairs.

More of Today's Birthdays: David Wayne (1914-1995). Bernard Gersten (1923-2020). Ruth Brown (1928-2006). Gene Hackman (b. 1930). Gino Conforti (b. 1932). Tammy Grimes (1934-2016). Vanessa Redgrave (b. 1937). Charles S. Dutton (b. 1951). Norbert Leo Butz (b. 1967). Lena Hall (b. 1980).

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