Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 17 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 17 In 1955, George Abbott, Helen Hayes, and Mary Martin star in a revival of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth.
George Abbott, Mary Martin, Helen Hayes, Heller Halliday, and Don Murrary in The Skin of Our Teeth.

1871 Birthday of playwright Jesse Lynch Williams. During the 1917–1918 theatre season, Williams' play, Why Marry, wins the first-ever Pulitzer Prize for drama.

1893 Mae West is born. While best remembered as a film star from the 1930s, West started out in vaudeville, later becoming a Broadway stage actor and playwright. On stage West appeared in many plays she also wrote. Among these were Diamond Lil (1928), Pleasure Man (1928), and The Constant Sinner (1931). At the curtain speech of her 1944 play Catherine Was Great, West explained that "Catherine had 300 lovers. I did the best I could in a couple of hours."

1920 The musical Tickle Me opens at the Selwyn Theatre (now American Airlines Theatre). It has a book and lyrics by Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Frank Mandel, and music by Herbert Stothart. Comic Frank Tinney stars, employing his usual bit about talking to the audience during the show. The plot follows a company of actors who travel to Tibet to shoot a film.

1955 A Broadway revival of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth stars George Abbott and Helen Hayes as Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, and Mary Martin as Sabina. The production, originally staged in Paris as part of the "Salute to France" project, runs for a limited engagement of 22 performances.

1999 The Provincetown Repertory Theatre presents the world premiere play by macabre illustrator and author Edward Gorey, titled Goreyphobia. Tony Award-winning conductor and orchestrator Peter Matz composed the music, with Daniel Levans directing. The play by the "Master of the Macabre," known for his dark drawings, develops into Gorey Details, which opens Off-Broadway October 16, 2000.

2006 Martin Short stars in "an improbable musical version of his life story" as Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me opens on Broadway at the Jacobs Theatre. Conceived by Short and Hairspray songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the cast also includes Brooks Ashmanskas, Mary Birdsong, Capathia Jenkins, and Nicole Parker.

2017 The pre-Broadway engagement of Disney’s Frozen musical begins performances at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Buell Theatre. Caissie Levy stars as Elsa opposite Patti Murin as Anna. The pair go on to reprise the roles when the production opens on Broadway in 2018.

2017 Neurosis opens at DR2 Theatre in a production directed by Andy Samberg, starring Jennifer Blood, two-time Tony Award nominee Joel Blum, Brennan Caldwell, Susan J. Jacks, Ian Michael Stuart, Morgan Weed, and Kevin Zak. The musical features a book by Allan Rice, music by Ben Green, and lyrics by Greg Edwards.

More of Today's Birthdays Sidney Michaels (1927–2011), Robert De Niro (b. 1943), Julian Fellowes (b. 1949), Sean Penn (b. 1960).

More Today in Theatre History

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