Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 5

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 5
Gwen Verdon (center) in <i>Redhead</i>
Gwen Verdon (center) in Redhead Vandamm Studio/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

1900 The scandalous Sapho is staged at Wallack's Theatre in New York. Based on Alphonse Daudet's novel, it stars Olga Nethersole as an evil woman who seduces a pure young man to keep as her lover. Purity wins out however, and the young man convinces her to return to the felon who is the father of her child. This debauchery reigns for just 29 performances. It re-opens in April for 55 more performances.

1908 Birthday of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who star in vaudeville and the Ziegfeld Follies. Their lives are the subject of the 1997 musical Side Show.

1937 On Your Toes balances at the Palace Theatre in London. The musical, devised by George Abbott, Lorenz Hart, and Richard Rodgers, stars Vera Zorina. It is staged by Leslie Henson.

1949 Mae West returns to Broadway in a revival of her 1928 play Diamond Lil at the Coronet Theatre. Three weeks into the run, West slips in her hotel room and fractures her ankle, forcing the production to be canceled. Performances finally resume in New York in September at the Plymouth Theatre.

1959 Gwen Verdon is a Redhead and, more importantly, plays the intended victim of a serial killer in the musical choreographed and directed by Bob Fosse. Richard Kiley co-stars. It runs at the 46th Street Theatre for 452 performances and wins the Tony Award as Best Musical and earns Verdon the fourth of her four Tony Awards.

1970 The Battle of Shrivings with the combined forces of John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, and director Peter Hall fights on for 73 performances at London's Lyric Theatre.

1981 Pam Gems' play Piaf opens on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre, where it runs for 165 performances. Jane Lapotaire wins a Tony Award for her performance as French singer-songwriter Édith Piaf.

2009 You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush, which casts former Saturday Night Live star Will Ferrell as a comical version of the 43rd President of the United States, opens at Broadway's Cort Theatre.

More of Today's Birthdays: Maxine Elliott 1868. John Daly Murphy 1873. Frederick Lonsdale 1881. John Carradine 1906. Red Buttons 1919. John Guare 1938. Jonathan Freeman 1950. Jennifer Jason Leigh 1962. Laura Linney 1964. Michael Sheen 1969. Alex Brightman 1987. Darren Criss 1987.

Watch Darren Criss run down his list of dream duets:

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