Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 14

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 14
The cast of Lennon.
The cast of Lennon. Joan Marcus

1888 Comedian DeWolf Hopper debuts his dramatic recitation of the poem Casey at the Bat at Wallack's Theatre. It becomes a cornerstone of his act for the next 40 years.

1909 Birthday of Ed Herlihy, who serves as announcer for countless radio and TV shows and movies, and who hosts the Broadway showtune radio program "Curtain Time" throughout the 1970s on WVNJ-FM.

1928 Opening night for one of the great comedy classics of Broadway history. The Front Page, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's story of hard-bitten reporters covering the story of a lifetime, bows at the Times Square Theatre, with Osgood Perkins and Lee Tracy.

1963 Two Broadway babies tie the knot as Carol Lawrence and Robert Goulet are married. Lawrence is best remembered for originating the role of Maria in West Side Story. Goulet originated the role of Lancelot in Camelot, and later played Arthur in a Broadway revival.

1990 The Off-Off-Broadway gospel musical Smoke on the Mountain transfers to the Lamb's Theatre Off-Broadway. The comedy, conceived and directed by Alan Bailey and written by Connie Ray, contains religion-oriented music by various composers. The show stars Kevin Chamberlin, who goes on to be featured in Broadway shows such as Dirty Blonde, Seussical, and The Addams Family.

1996 Howard Crabtree does not get to see the opening of his When Pigs Fly, as he died of AIDS complications less than two months earlier. The musical revue with wild costumes, conceived by Crabtree and Mark Waldrop with music by Dick Gallagher, plays 334 performances at Off-Broadway's Douglas Fairbanks Theatre.

1998 A new production of Ernest Thompson’s On Golden Pond opens at the Theatre at the Center in Indiana. Starring as the older couple who try to come to terms with their children and their lives, are Nanette Fabray and Art Kassul. The production runs through September 6.

2002 "Would you shut your phones off for Christ sakes?" Those are the words shouted by actor Stanley Tucci during today's performance of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune at Broadway's Belasco Theatre, in response to an audience member's persistently ringing cell phone, which had followed many others at recent performances. Press coverage of the outburst fuels calls for a ban on pagers and cell phones in New York's theatres and museums. The law is put into effect in 2003.

2003 Broadway, Off-Broadway, and many regional shows are canceled when a power blackout deprives most of the Northeast U.S. of electric power.

2005 The life story of Beatle John Lennon comes to Broadway in a biographical revue, Lennon, directed by Don Scardino, with Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, acting as consultant. The production, in which multiple actors play the title character, confuses some critics and audiences, leading to a brief five-week run at the Broadhurst Theatre. The cast includes Will Chase, Chuck Cooper, Mandy Gonzalez, Terrence Mann, and Julia Murney.

2006 Lawrence J. Sacharow, the director of the theatre program at Fordham University who was instrumental in ushering the mid-1990s revival of Edward Albee with his 1994 New York staging of Three Tall Women, dies at age 68.

2012 Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote, late playwright Foote's three-play collection about the intimate daily encounters in small-town America, opens Off-Broadway as part of Primary Stages' season at 59E59. Comprised of the short plays Blind Date, The One-Armed Man, and The Midnight Caller, the cast includes Hallie Foote, Jayne Houdyshell, Devon Abner, and Jeremy Bobb.

2016 Fyvush Finkel, arguably the last significant living link to New York’s once-thriving Yiddish theater, dies at age 93. First appearing on the stage at the age of 9, he appeared in Yiddish-speaking productions for nearly 35 years. He was seen on Broadway in Café Crown and two productions of Fiddler on the Roof. On television, he played bombastic lawyer Douglas Wambaugh on Picket Fences, and history teacher Harvey Lipschultz on Boston Public.

Today's Birthdays: Lee Adams 1924. Alice Ghostley 1924. Thomas Meehan 1929. Tom Eyen 1940. Steve Martin 1945. Marcia Gay Harden 1959. Sarah Brightman 1960. Jamie Parker 1979.

Watch Carmen Cusack sing "At Long Last" from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's musical Bright Star:

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