Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: November 11 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: November 11
Paul Reubens in The Pee-Wee Herman Show. Ed Krieger

1872 Birthday of Maude Adams, Broadway's first Peter Pan, who originates the role in 1904, and returns at least three times through 1915.

1918 Birthday of Stubby Kaye, rotund character actor who memorably originates the roles of Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls and Marryin' Sam in Li'l Abner.

1924 The original New York production of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms opens at the Greenwich Village Theatre. Starring Walter Huston, Charles Ellis, and Mary Morris, it runs for 49 weeks.

1937 The actors play in street clothes against an almost bare, brick backdrop in a production of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, which opens at the Mercury Theatre. The production proves especially popular with the younger audiences who "rejoiced over this bizarre business because it was in fashion," reports Burns Mantle in his The Best Plays of 1937–1938. Playing Brutus is a young Orson Welles, also the producer and director. The production runs almost five months, racking up 157 performances.

1941 Maurice Evans and Judith Anderson open a production of Macbeth at the National Theatre that achieves a run of 131 performances, a Broadway record for the play.

1943 The songwriting team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe make their Broadway debut with a now-forgotten musical, What's Up?, which stars Jimmy Savo and is directed by George Balanchine. It runs just 63 performances at the National Theatre. The team goes on to write Brigadoon, Camelot, and My Fair Lady, among other shows.

1958 French import La Plume De Ma Tante opens at the Royale Theatre. The title makes no sense—which is exactly the point of the madcap revue, plumed by Robert Dhery.

1963 Christopher Plummer stars as a Hitler-like man who goes from nothing to dictatorial power, in the U.S. premiere of Bertolt Brecht's Arturo Ui. Despite direction by Tony Richardson, incidental music by Jule Styne, and an impressive gathering of supporting talent, the production expires after just 8 performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

1964 Luv is in the air for 901 performances of Murray Schisgal's satire. The original cast includes Alan Arkin, Eli Wallach, and Anne Jackson, directed by Mike Nichols.

1985 The Golden Land, a revue recalling the golden days of the Yiddish theatre, opens at the Second Avenue Theatre and runs for 277 performances.

1990 Nigel Hawthorne weeps on stage and goes on to win a Tony Award for his performance as Chronicles of Narnia author C.S. Lewis in the drama Shadowlands, opposite Jane Alexander. It runs 169 performances at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

2000 Comic actor Lily Tomlin, still seeking answers to meaning in human existence, brings her 1985 solo hit, Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, back to Broadway. Wagner re-approaches the show with a fresh eye in anticipation of the new millennium, according to a statement. In it, Tomlin portrays a teen punk, a wise bag lady, hookers, a fitness freak, a husband, a lesbian editor, and others. The show runs 184 performances.

2001 Times Square's legendary "Polish Tea Room" (formally the Cafe Edison) is the setting for Neil Simon's latest comedy, 45 Seconds From Broadway, which has Lewis J. Stadlen, Judith Blazer, and Marian Seldes popping off lots of theatrical insider jokes. Nevertheless, it stays just 73 performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, which is just across the street from the Edison's back door.

2003 Louis LaRusso II, the Tony-nominated playwright who chronicled life in Hoboken, New Jersey, in plays like Lamppost Reunion, dies at age 67.

2004 New York sees a rare Tennessee Williams play premiere. The one-act play The Fat Man's Wife has its New York debut as part of Manhattan Theatre Club's Off-Broadway Williams multiple-bill Five by Tenn featuring Robert Sella, Kathleen Chalfant, and Penny Fuller.

2010 The Broadway bow of The Pee-wee Herman Show, starring Paul Reubens as Pee-wee, opens at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The cast includes three performers who created their characters in the original version at the Groundlings Theatre in 1981: John Moody as Mailman Mike, John Paragon as Jambi the Genie, and Lynne Marie Stewart as Miss Yvonne.

More of Today's Birthdays: Roland Young 1887. Clifton Webb 1889. Robert Ryan 1909. Stanley Tucci 1960. Calista Flockhart 1964.

Watch highlights from The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway

More Today in Theatre History

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