Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 15

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 15
 
Andrea Martin with Matthew James Thomas in Pippin.
Andrea Martin with Matthew James Thomas in Pippin. Joan Marcus

1622 Birthday of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by the nom de plume Molière (1622-1673), one of France's greatest playwrights, who writes Tartuffe, School for Wives, Scapin, The Misanthrope, The Miser, and many other plays. At the age of 51, he collapses during a performance of his own The Imaginary Invalid and later dies.

1879 U.S. premiere of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore at the Standard Theatre, creating a sensation, and inspiring a generation of young writers to try their hands at comic operetta. A key moment in the development of the musical.

1911 Birthday of Cy Feuer, who, in partnership with Ernest H. Martin, produces Broadway classics Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, The Boy Friend, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Little Me.

1917 Jerome Kern opens his second musical in four days. Titled Love o' Mike, it's the story of a man who inspires the adoration of a group of young women. Everything their boyfriends do to sabotage him just makes the girls love him more. Songs, including "It Wasn't My Fault," help boost the show to a 192 performance run.

1919 Just what's going on Up in Mabel's Room? Audiences head to the Eltinge Theatre in New York to find out in the comedy by Wilson Collison and Otto Harbach. Enid Markey and Hazel Dawn star for 229 performances.

1923 When the factory-owner's son decides the workers must take over the ailing company, it takes a millionaire fresh from an asylum to bail them out of debt. Yep, Give and Take is a comedy. Aaron Hoffman's farce runs beyond the season. Vivian Tobin, Louis Mann, and Robert Craig are in the cast at the 49th Street Theatre.

1948 With Sid Caesar in the cast, I'd Make Mine Manhattan too. The revue with music by Richard Levine and sketches by Arnold Horwitt runs almost 53 weeks. Hassard Short directs.

1969 Shakespearean scholar and author of What Happens in Hamlet and Shakespeare's Happy Comedies John Dover Wilson dies in Scotland. He was 88 years old.

1981 Eva Le Gallienne, at age 82, returns to Broadway to star in To Grandmother's House We Go, which runs 61 performances at the Biltmore Theatre. Her co-star is Shepperd Strudwick.

1982 Opening night of the revue Forbidden Broadway at Palsson's nightclub in New York. Featuring showtune parodies by Gerard Alessandrini, the revue has numerous editions at various venues over the years.

1983 Shepperd Strudwick dies, two years to the day after his final Broadway opening, in To Grandmother's House We Go. Other notable productions include Affairs of State, and Christopher Blake.

2008 An unusual tongue-in-cheek stage adaptation of the Alfred Hitchcock film thriller The 39 Steps arrives at the American Airlines Theatre from London. The story's dozens of characters are performed quick-change style by an ensemble of four—or possibly five—actors. After completing its limited engagement at the American Airlines, the production transfers to the Cort Theatre, and then to the Helen Hayes Theatre.

2009 Soul of Shaolin, the martial arts-driven tale of an orphan boy raised in the ancient ways of monks, opens at the Marquis Theatre, marking the first time a production from the People's Republic of China appeared on Broadway.

2011 Romulus Linney, a respected playwright, and father of actor Laura Linney, dies at age 80. He wrote dozens of plays on a wide variety of subjects over a multi-decade career, including The Sorrows of Frederick, Ambrosio, A Woman Without a Name, Child Byron, The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks, and Tennessee.

2017 The Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award-winning musical Jersey Boys closes on Broadway after 4,642 performances. With a run of over 11 years, the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons musical was the longest-running tenant in the August Wilson Theatre’s (formerly the Virginia Theatre) almost 100-year history.

More of Today's Birthdays: Ivor Novello 1893. Chester Hale 1899. Torin Thatcher 1905. Eddie Craven 1909. Lloyd Bridges 1913. Thelma Carpenter 1922. Andrea Martin 1947. Mario Van Peebles 1957. Shauna Hicks 1962.

Watch highlights from The 39 Steps:

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