Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 5

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 5
Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert in a promotional photo for West Side Story.
Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert in a promotional photo for West Side Story.

1881 Birthday of B. Iden Payne (1881-1976) a producer and playwright, who, as a professor at the University of Texas, inspired three generations of Broadway artists, including Tommy Tune and the songwriting team of Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt, who dedicated The Fantasticks to him and modeled the role of the Old Actor after him.

1897 Birthday of master actor Morris Carnovsky (1897-1992), who originates roles in Awake and Sing!, Golden Boy, My Sister Eileen, The Brothers Karamazov, Saint Joan (U.S. premiere), Elizabeth the Queen, Cafe Crown, and Rhinoceros.

1901 Florence Eldridge (Florence McKechnie) is born. She marries actor Fredric March, and they star together in the Pulitzer-winning dramas The Skin of Our Teeth and Long Day's Journey Into Night, in which she originates the roles of Mrs. Antrobus and Mary Tyrone, respectively.

1905 U.S. premiere of George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman, which runs 192 performances at the Hudson Theatre.

1919 Shubert theatres across the country close when stagehands and musicians join the Actors' Equity strike.

1934 Sophie Tucker gets a black eye when she steps between two women fighting over her autograph outside the Empire Theatre in London.

1946 Presented as a fundraiser for the American League for a Free Palestine, Ben Hecht's pageant A Flag Is Born, featuring music by Kurt Weill, opens on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre. The production stars Paul Muni and Celia Adler as an aging, dispossessed Jewish couple that journeys from post-World War II Europe to Palestine. The cast also includes journalist and World War II war correspondent Quentin Reynolds, opera singer Mario Berini, and actor Marlon Brando.

1980 Actor Barbara Loden dies of cancer at age 48. After making her Broadway debut in 1957's Compulsion, she appears in Look After Lulu and After the Fall, for which she won a Tony Award. Loden was also a film actor, appearing in Elia Kazan's Wild River and Splendor in the Grass. Eventually she married her director Kazan and took on directing the drama Wanda, a film she also wrote and edited.

1996 An American pianist and his elderly Viennese teacher argue over Schumann's "Dichterliebe" in Jon Marans' Old Wicked Songs at Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre. The drama starring Hal Robinson and Justin Kirk plays for 210 performances before closing March 9 of the following year.

2002 Previews begin at The Public Theater for Richard Greenberg's baseball drama Take Me Out, which wins the 2003 Tony Award as Best Play after a transfer to Broadway.

2002 Continuing the sports-related night in New York, a huge evening rally in Times Square to kick off the pro football season causes Broadway producers to push back their curtain time to 8:30 PM.

2003 Film star Heather Graham plays a woman who decides to go through with a blind date the day following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in Craig Wright's play Recent Tragic Events, beginning performances at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons.

2004 Elton John's Broadway musical Aida closes after 1,852 performances. It's the first Broadway show produced by Disney Theatricals to close. Earlier Disney productions Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King outlive it.

2010 Twyla Tharp's Come Fly Away—the dance musical that sets the music of Frank Sinatra into motion—closes at Broadway's Marriot Marquis Theatre after 188 performances.

More of Today's Birthdays: Victorien Sardou 1831. Luella Gear 1897. Carol Lawrence 1932. William Devane 1940. Raquel Welch 1940.

Watch highlights from Twyla Tharp's Come Fly Away:

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