Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 18

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 18
 
In 1998, the original production of Ragtime opens on Broadway.
Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell in <i>Ragtime</i>
Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime Catherine Ashmore

1882 Birthday of A. A. Milne, best known as the creator of the Winnie-the-Pooh books, but also a prolific Broadway playwright, author of Mr. Pim Passes By, The Truth About Blayds, Belinda, Give Me Yesterday, and Ariadne.

1913 Birthday of funnyman Danny Kaye, who stars on Broadway in Let's Face It!, Lady in the Dark (singing "Tchaikovsky"), and other shows before going off to Hollywood for a series of comedies and musicals. He returns to Broadway in 1970 for Richard Rodgers and Martin Charnin's Two by Two.

1945 First a novel, then a film, then a radio drama, now finally Rebecca arrives on Broadway. Daphne Du Maurier adapts her own work. The cast includes Diana Barrymore, Florence Reed, and Bramwell Fletcher, directed by Clarence Derwent. In 2008, a musical version of Rebecca is announced for Broadway, but it is postponed after scandals and financial troubles.

1953 On his birthday, Danny Kaye opens a revue show at the Palace Theatre featuring The Dunhills, The Marquis Family, Senor Wences, and The Johnny Mann Singers. The show earns a Special Tony Award.

1964 The Tony-nominated play Dylan by Sidney Michaels opens at the Plymouth Theatre. Based on the lives of John Malcolm Brinnin and Caitlin Thomas, the production features Alec Guinness and Kate Reid as the two respective playwrights.

1968 Songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebb follow their success in Cabaret with The Happy Time, based on a play about a French-Canadian photographer, and his relationship with his adoring nephew. Robert Goulet, then near the top of his popularity, stars.

1974 Choreographer and director Michael Bennett responds to an idea for a show about the lives of dancers in Broadway choruses. Bennett assembles a group of dancers, including Donna McKechnie, and has them discuss their experiences in an all-night session tonight. The show that will become A Chorus Line begins to take shape.

1978 Donal Donnelly is My Astonishing Self, a solo show about George Bernard Shaw. Michael Voysey adapted Shaw's writings for a six-week run at the Astor Place Theatre.

1998 It's Ragtime at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The show's epic journey to a home on Broadway nearly matches that of E.L. Doctorow's novel, adapted by Terrence McNally. Frank Galati directs the cast of 59, led by Brian Stokes Mitchell, Peter Friedman, Marin Mazzie, and Audra McDonald. It wins several Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical and Best Score.

2004 Billed as North America's current longest-running theatrical production, The Toronto Truck Theatre staging of Agatha Christie's durable murder mystery, The Mousetrap, closes after a run of 26-1/2 years.

More of Today's Birthdays: A. A. Milne (1882-1956), Frank Harling (a.k.a. W. Franke Harling) (1887-1958), Cary Grant (1904–1986), Robert Russell (1912–1992), Nikos Psacharopoulos (1928-1989), Artie Siccardi (1931-2020), Shaun Davey (b. 1948), Mark Rylance (b. 1960), Jesse L. Martin (b. 1969), Maulik Pancholy (b. 1974)

Watch a cast including original star Brian Stokes Mitchell perform Ragtime in concert on Ellis Island:

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