Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 25

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 25
Glynis Johns and Len Cariou in A Little Night Music
Glynis Johns and Len Cariou in A Little Night Music Martha Swope/The New York Public Library

1900 Birthday of legendary Broadway producer and director Jed Harris, who presents The Royal Family, Broadway, Our Town, The Heiress, and The Crucible. He is said to be the model for Oscar Jaffe in Twentieth Century.

1936 Opening night of James M. Cain's steamy melodrama, The Postman Always Rings Twice, which runs just 72 performances at the Lyceum and Golden Theatres, but goes on to become a popular film.

1953 Wouldn't you just guess that My Sister Eileen moved into a Wonderful Town? Based on Ruth McKenney's short stories, the musical comedy stars Rosalind Russell. The book is by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov, with a score by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics provided by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. There are 559 performances and it wins the Tony Award for Best Musical.

1969 Al Pacino makes his Broadway debut as a defiant young drug addict in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, which runs 39 performances at the Belasco Theatre.

1973 With the foundation of Ingmar Bergman's film Smiles of a Summer Night, A Little Night Music fills the air of the Shubert Theatre. The latter is provided by Stephen Sondheim along with the lyrics. Glynis Johns, Len Cariou, and Hermione Gingold star in the Hal Prince and Hugh Wheeler show. It wins the Tony Award for Best Musical, and runs 601 performances.

1983 Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams dies of asphyxiation in his room at the Hotel Elysée in Manhattan. The author of such classics as The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof lived to 71.

1999 One of Harold Pinter's earliest works, The Hothouse, opens at the Atlantic Theater Company. A nameless government institution and its sometimes bumbling, sometimes sinister bureaucrats are the subject of the comedic revival. Starring are several of the Atlantic Theater Company members, Kate Blumberg, Larry Bryggman, and Jordan Lage, and guest artists Patrick Breen, Stephen Mendillo, and Liam O'Brien. Founding company member Karen Kohlhaas stages.

1999 The premiere of a new Tennessee Williams play is definitely an event—especially when the play has gone unproduced since its writing in 1938. Not About Nightingales had its world premiere in 1998 at the National Theatre in London, followed by an American premiere later that year at the Alley Theatre in Houston. Written early in Williams' career, the exposé of brutal prison life has Corin Redgrave overseeing as the warden Boss Whalen. Trevor Nunn directs the production's Broadway debut at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

2001 As The Producers wraps up its sold-out tryout run at the Cadillac Palace in Chicago, lines for tickets are already sprouting in front of the show's next stop: Broadway's St. James Theatre.

2003 Vincent G. Liff, a longtime Broadway casting director connected with such major Broadway hits as Cats, Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera, and Les Misérables, dies after a six-year battle with a brain tumor.

2005 Dodgers Costumes, the theatrical costume rental concern that operated under a variety of names during its 142-year history and owned more than half a million items, announces it is going out of business. The collection is subsequently purchased by Costume World Inc. of Deerfield Beach, Florida, and relocated to that state.

2006 Darren McGavin, who played a memorable collection of gruff, worldly-wise, and unmistakably American characters over a six-decade career on stage and film, including Starbuck in the original The Rainmaker, dies at age 83.

2015 Ralph Fiennes stars in a new production of George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman, opening at the National Theatre in London.

2016 Oscar winner Forest Whitaker makes his Broadway debut in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Hughie at the Booth Theatre. It runs just 37 performances.

More of Today's Birthdays: Carlo Goldoni 1707. Zeppo Marx 1901. Mary Chase 1907. Jim Backus 1913. Lisa Kirk 1925. Larry Gelbart 1928. Tom Courtenay 1937. Susan Browning 1941. Douglas Hodge 1960.

Watch highlights from the 2009 Broadway revival of A Little Night Music, starring Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones:

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