PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: JANUARY 12

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Christopher Reichheld and Anne Bradley
January 12, 2014

1878 Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár (1878-1952) is born today in Budapest. He will write The Good Fairy, The Play's the Thing, The Guardsman, The Swan and Liliom, the latter of which will be adapted as the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical Carousel.



1914 When a mad professor wants to suppress films, what will happen to The Queen of the Movies? This musical starring Vallie Valli will run 13 weeks at the Winter Garden.

1932 Leslie Howard stars and co-produces with Gilbert Miller, The Animal Kingdom. Philip Barry's comedy about a man whose wife has sapped his vitality will run a lively 23 weeks at the Broadhust Theatre.

1938 For just five performances, Henry Miller's Theatre will turn into Tortilla Flat. Jack Kirkland adapted John Steinbeck's novel of life in a California slum.

1941 Albert Hackett and Peggy Conklin are Mr. and Mrs. North. Frances Lockridge and Richard Lockridge conceived this sleuthing couple for the New Yorker magazine; Owen Davis adapted this comedy at the Belasco Theatre.

1986 Terrence McNally's new farce, It's Only a Play, opens at the Manhattan Theatre Club. It stars Joanna Gleason, David Garrison, Christine Baranski, and Paul Benedict.

1987 The Broadway Theatre box office begins to sell tickets for Les Misérables. During the first week, the show sets a new record by taking in a total of $1,721,098. Les Misérables begins previews at the Broadway Theatre on Feb. 28. It will eventually become the third-longest running show in Broadway history.

2011 Frank McGuinness' adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's 1896 drama John Gabriel Borkman, starring Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw and Lindsay Duncan, opens at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. James Macdonald directs the production, which premiered at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin the previous fall.

2012 Broadway gets a new look at Catfish Row, with fresh dramatic perspective and a cast boasting Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald, when The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess opens on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The production, which condenses George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward and Dorothy Heyward's four-hour folk opera into a two-and-a-half-hour staging, will go on to win Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical (Audra McDonald).

More of Today's Birthdays: Texas Guinan 1884. Jack McGowan 1894. Tex Ritter 1905. Jose Limon 1908. Patsy Kelly 1910. Luise Rainer 1910. Andre De Shields 1946. Oliver Platt 1960. Simon Russell Beale 1961.