Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 15

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 15
 
Purlie, starring Melba Moore and Cleavon Little, opens on Broadway in 1970.
Melba Moore and Cleavon Little in <i>Purlie</i>
Melba Moore and Cleavon Little in Purlie Friedman-Abeles/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

1926 Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock has its U.S. premiere at Broadway's Mayfair Theatre.

1934 The New Faces of 1934 revue introduces future stars Henry Fonda and Imogene Coca.

1956 Under the tutelage of Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews changes from a poor flower girl to My Fair Lady at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York. Robert Coote, Cathleen Nesbitt, and Stanley Holloway are also in the cast of the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical adapted from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Cecil Beaton designs the costumes for the 2,717 performance run.

1961 Margaret Leighton stars in The Lady from the Sea at London's Queen's Theatre. The Henrik Ibsen play directed by Glen Byam Shaw runs for two months.

1962 There's No Strings attached to Richard Rodgers' score for the tuner. Rodgers supplied his own lyrics for the musical starring Richard Kiley and Diahann Carroll.

1964 To honor William Shakespeare's 400th anniversary, the New York Philharmonic presents an Homage to Shakespeare. William Ball directs a stellar cast that includes John Gielgud, Edith Evans, and Margaret Leighton interpreting various selections.

1970 Purlie, a musical adaptation of Ossie Davis' Purlie Victorious, opens at the Broadway Theatre. Cleavon Little stars in the title role, and Melba Moore, who plays Lutiebelle, stops the show nightly with "I Got Love." Both actors win Tony Awards, and the production runs 688 performances.

1987 Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express rolls into the Gershwin Theatre. The roller skate spectacle with John Napier's set features Jane Krakowski and Broadway's original Annie, Andrea McArdle.

2001 Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Noel Coward's Design for Living opens. Joe Mantello directs Alan Cumming, Jennifer Ehle, and Dominic West in the production at the American Airlines Theatre.

2009 A revival of Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit—featuring an array of stars from the worlds of stage and screen—opens at Broadway's Shubert Theatre. Michael Blakemore directs the "improbable comedy" about a novelist (Rupert Everett) doing research with an eccentric medium (Angela Lansbury) who conjures up the ghost of his late first wife (Christine Ebersole), with dire consequences for his second wife (Jayne Atkinson). Angela Lansbury's performance as Madame Arcati earns her a fifth Tony Award.

2012 A Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize–winning American tragedy Death of a Salesman, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman, opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The production, which re-creates Jo Mielziner's original Tony Award-winning scenic design, also features Linda Emond as Linda Loman, Andrew Garfield as Biff, and Finn Wittrock as Happy. The revival wins Tony Awards for director Mike Nichols, and for Revival of a Play.

2015 Kristin Chenoweth embodies Lily Garland, a role created by her idol Madeline Kahn, in Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway revival of On the Twentieth Century, opening at the American Airlines Theatre. The musical's cast also includes Peter Gallagher as Oscar Jaffe, Andy Karl as Bruce Granit, and Mary Louise Wilson as Letitia Primrose.

2018 The Jimmy Buffett jukebox musical Escape to Margaritaville opens the Marquis Theatre. Featuring a book by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley, the production, directed by Christopher Ashley and choreographed by Kelly Devine, starred Paul Alexander Nolan, Alison Luff, Lisa Howard, Eric Petersen, Rema Webb, Don Sparks, and Andre Ward.

Today's Birthdays: Grace Livingston Furniss (1864-1938), Silvio Hein (1879-1928) J. Pat O'Malley (1904-1985), Margaret Webster (1905-1972), Richard Ward (1915-1979), Hildy Parks (1926-2004), Judd Hirsch (b. 1935), Ken Ludwig (b. 1950), Thommie Walsh (1950-2007), David Auster (b. 1969)

Watch highlights from the 2015 Broadway revival of On the Twentieth Century:

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