Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 16 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 16 Jaclyn Backhaus' kaleidoscopic, time-hopping comedy, Wives opens at Playwrights Horizons in 2019.
Adina Verson, Aadya Bedi, and Purva Bedi Joan Marcus

1892 Songwriter and producer Earl Carroll is born. His best-remembered contribution to the theatre is the eponymous revue The Earl Carroll Vanities, which had nine editions between 1923 and 1940, and a murder mystery set at his own show, Murder at the Vanities.

1924 Birthday of actor Lauren Bacall, who enjoys a long career in Hollywood before turning increasingly to theatre starting in the 1960s. Among her starring assignments: Cactus Flower, Waiting in the Wings, Applause, and Woman of the Year. She wins Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Musical for her performances in the latter two shows.

1925 No, No, Nanette opens on Broadway at the Globe Theatre. Louise Groody stars as the headstrong young woman who meets a rakish bible salesman, played by Charles Winninger. Two well-known musical theatre songs that come from this show are "Tea for Two" and "I Want to Be Happy."

1926 A detective story titled Broadway opens a 600-performance run. It's co-written and co-directed by future Broadway legend George Abbott—his first big hit in those two capacities.

1940 Tallulah Bankhead performs The Little Foxes in Hershey, Pennsylvania. That morning, she attended her father's funeral in Washington, D.C., where he was the Speaker of the House.

1948 The national tour of A Streetcar Named Desire is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Nixon Theatre. Mid-scene, the play comes to a screeching halt as a false cry of "fire" is heard. Uta Hagen, who is playing Blanche DuBois, gets laughs at an intended serious moment during a later scene when her character yells "fire, fire."

1983 Tonight is the final straw for the producers of The Corn Is Green on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne. Its star, Cicely Tyson, revered actor of stage and screen, is fired. She had missed the September 8 performance to accompany famed husband Miles Davis on a trip without telling the producers in advance. The show closes two days later.

1997 Writer/actor John Leguizamo, whose previous solo shows included Spic O-Rama and Mambo Mouth, opens his latest work Freak at Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theatre. The show in-progress previously played Chicago's Goodman Theatre, San Francisco's Theatre on the Square, and Off-Off-Broadway's Performance Space 122. It reaches Broadway later in the season (February 12, 1998) and plays 144 performances.

2003 Hugh Jackman makes his Broadway debut in the Peter Allen bio musical The Boy From Oz, which begins previews at the Imperial Theatre. Jackman gets some of the best reviews of the season for his performance, and wins the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

2013 Ethan Coen's first full-length play, Women Or Nothing, opens Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company's Linda Gross Theater. Directed by David Cromer, the production stars Robert Beitzel, Halley Feiffer, Deborah Rush, and Susan Pourfar.

2016 Edward Albee, the author of dozens of bitingly funny and scabrously caustic dramas, and one of the most important American playwrights for much of the last fifty years, dies at age 88. A three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, for A Delicate Balance, Seascape, and Three Tall Women, his works also included The Zoo Story, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Tiny Alice, and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

2016 Richard Nelson's Rhinebeck panarama continues at The Public Theater with the What Did You Expect?, the second play in the The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family cycle. Comprised of three plays, the plays follow a family as they discuss art, life, and the real-world politics of the time. The third play in the series goes on to open on November 8, the night of Donald Trump's election.

2019 Jaclyn Backhaus' kaleidoscopic, time-hopping comedy, Wives opens at Playwrights Horizons. Directed by Margot Bordelon, the world premiere reframes the stories of the wives of "great men"—from the brawny castles of 16th Century France, to the rugged plains of 1960s Idaho, to the strapping fortresses of 1920s India.

More of Today's Birthdays: Sam Spewack (1899-1971); Janis Paige (b. 1922); Peter Falk (1927-2011); David Copperfield (b. 1956); Jennifer Tilly (b. 1958); Marc Anthony (b. 1969); Nick Jonas (b. 1992).

Watch highlights from the 2012 Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring Tracy Letts and Amy Morton:

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