Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 12 | Playbill

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Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 12

In 1979, the musical They're Playing Our Song opens on Broadway.

Lynn Redgrave and Michael Crawford in Black Comedy. Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

1903 Birthday of Broadway leading man Todd Duncan, who creates the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess and stars in the original productions of Lost in the Stars and Cabin in the Sky.

1906 Opening night of George M. Cohan's George Washington Jr. at the Herald Square Theatre. The musical introduces the standard "You're a Grand Old Flag."

1915 The Neighborhood Playhouse opens at 466 Grand Street in New York. It is funded by Alice and Irene Lewisohn, noted for their arts and education philanthropies.

1924 How fast is a Beggar on Horseback? Come to the Broadhurst Theatre to find out. George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly's comedy limning the dream of a harried composer runs beyond the season. Osgood Perkins and Spring Byington star.

1929 English actor Lily Langtry dies in Monaco. She made her stage debut with the Bancrofts at the Haymarket in 1881 and organized her own company that toured England and America. She was 77 years old.

1930 An honest schoolteacher finds himself drawn into a confidence scheme in Marcel Pagnol's drama Topaze, starring Clarence Derwent and Frank Morgan. The drama plays 150 performances at the Music Box Theatre and is later filmed at least five times.

1958 Laurence Olivier plays a faded musical hall star in John Osborne's bitter drama The Entertainer on Broadway.

1967 Black Comedy alights at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The Peter Shaffer comedy, shown with his The White Lies as a curtain raiser, stars Geraldine Page, Michael Crawford, Lynn Redgrave, and Donald Madden. It runs 337 performances.

1969 Woody Allen stars in his own comedy, Play It Again, Sam, about a nebbishy film buff who uses the ghost of Humphrey Bogart to help him win the affection of his dream girl, played by Diane Keaton. It runs 453 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

1979 After more than a month of previews, Mitch Leigh's musical Saravá reluctantly has its opening night—but only after theatre critics from major papers threaten to review it anyway. Starring Tovah Feldshuh, the romance lasts 101 performances.

1980 New York's Rialto Theatre, a movie theatre built on the former site of Oscar Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre (1899–1915), returns to legitimate performance with a revival of the musical The Canterbury Tales. The production, which began life as a showcase at the Equity Library Theatre, runs for only two weeks.

1998 John Leguizamo's solo show Freak, subtitled "A Semi Demi Quasi Pseudo Autobiography (His Most Dangerous Work Yet)," opens at the Cort Theatre. The production extends twice, receives Tony nominations for Best Play and Best Performance by a Leading Actor, and is filmed for HBO by Spike Lee.

2013 Primary Stages' 20th anniversary revival of David Ives' All in the Timing opens Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters. Directed by John Rando, the collection of short comedies stars Carson Elrod, Jenn Harris, Matthew Saldivar, Liv Rooth, and Eric Clem.

2014 Sid Caesar, who, as the star of the 1950s live comedy show Your Show of Shows, became one of the first television celebrities and set the bar for sketch comedy, dies at age 91. Your Show of Shows, fueled by comedy writers such as Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart, debuted on NBC on February 23, 1950, and ran for four years. Caesar received a Tony nomination for his starring performance in Neil Simon, Cy Coleman, and Carolyn Leigh's 1962 musical comedy Little Me.

2019 Ivo van Hove directs a stage adaptation of All About Eve, opening at London's Noël Coward Theatre. Gillian Anderson and Lily James star as Margo Channing and Eve Harrington, the roles originated by Bette Davis and Anne Baxter in the Oscar-winning film.

More of Today's Birthdays: Joseph E. Howard (1867-1991). Franco Zeffirelli (1923-2019). Louis Zorich (1924-2018). Patrick Quinn (1950-2006). Zach Grenier (b. 1954). Douglas McGrath (b. 1958). Billy Stritch (b. 1962). Josh Brolin (b. 1968). J. Robert Spencer (b. 1969). Christina Ricci (b. 1980).

Look Back at John Leguizamo’s Solo Shows on Broadway

More Today in Theatre History

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