PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: JANUARY 10

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Christopher Reichheld and Anne Bradley
January 10, 2014

1820 Birthday of Louisa Lane Drew, matriarch of the Drew and Barrymore acting dynasty that would eventually include John Drew, Ethel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore and today's Drew Barrymore.



1904 Ray Bolger is born today. This triple threat will appear in numerous shows and in 1948 star in Where's Charley?, the musical version of Charley's Aunt. A yellow brick road will stretch out before him in Hollywood.

1910 Musical-comedy star Peggy Wood makes her New York City debut in The Old Town at the Globe Theatre. Wood will appear in several Noel Coward plays, including the New York premiere of Blithe Spirit.

1911 Sigmund Romberg writes his first complete Broadway score for The Whirl of the World, which opens today at the Winter Garden. A brochure describes it thus: "An Isle of Gorgeousness, Fun and Music, Entirely Surrounded by Girls." The formula proves a winner, running 161 performances.

1929 Elmer Rice captures a Street Scene at the Playhouse Theatre in New York. This stark drama about tenement life will win the Pulitzer Prize and run for 601 performances. The 1947 revival is set to music with a score by Kurt Weill and lyrics by poet Langston Hughes.

1941 Two sweet little old ladies help nudge melancholy people off to a better world in the macabre comedy Arsenic and Old Lace which opens its 1444-performance run today at the Fulton Theatre. Jean Adair and Josephine Hull play the sisters and Boris Karloff plays their nephew.

1947 Ella Logan and Albert Sharpe look to the rainbow in Fred Saidy and Yip Harburg's Finian's Rainbow, about a leprechaun who turns human when his crock of gold is stolen and buried near Fort Knox. The show opens a 725-performance run tonight. David Wayne and Michael Kidd will go on to win the very first Tony Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Choreographer, respectively.

1962 Romulus, satirizing the end of the Roman Empire, will have a much shorter life than its subject, with just 69 performances to its calender. Gore Vidal adapted this Friedrich Duerrenmatt work. Cyril Ritchard stars.

1968 Some of first openly gay characters seen on the Broadway stage are played by Milo O'Shea and Eli Wallach in Charles Dyer's Staircase, which runs 61 performances at the Biltmore Theatre.

2000 Dirty Blonde, written by and starring Claudia Shear, opens at the New York Theatre Workshop. It will run for 40 performances before transferring to Broadway's Helen Hayes Theater.

2005 Composer Cy Coleman, who died the previous November, is remembered at a starry memorial service at the Majestic Theatre. Among speakers were collaborators Neil Simon, David Zippel, A. E. Hotchner and Wendy Wasserstein. Among historic performances were Chita Rivera and Ann Reinking performing "Big Spender" from Sweet Charity, and Lucie Arnaz and her daughter Katherine Luckinbill dueting on "Hey, Look Me Over," a song first sung by Arnaz's mother Lucille Ball in Wildcat.

2008 A stage adaptation of the Disney animated film The Little Mermaid opens at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It features the original movie score by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, plus ten new songs by Menken and Glenn Slater. Francesca Zambello directs a cast led by Sierra Boggess as Ariel the mermaid, and Sherie Rene Scott as Ursula, the tentacled sea witch.

2013 The Broadway premiere of The Other Place, Sharr White's mysterious play starring Laurie Metcalf as a medical researcher whose health, homelife and workplace are shaken, opens at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

More of Today's Birthdays: Francis X. Bushman 1883. Florence Reed 1883. Polly Rowles 1914. Sal Mineo 1939.