Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 25

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 25
Brian d'Arcy James and Idina Menzel in The Wild Party.
Brian d'Arcy James and Idina Menzel in The Wild Party. Joan Marcus

1915 It's 90 in the Shade at the Knickerbocker Theatre. Richard Carle and Marie Cahill star in the musical with a score by Jerome Kern and book by Guy Bolton. The production closes abruptly after 40 performances when the actors, who had not been paid in a week, refuse to go on.

1968 Robert Anderson's family drama I Never Sang for My Father opens at the Longacre Theatre with a cast that includes Lillian Gish, Hal Holbrook, and Alan Webb. It runs 124 performances.

1969 Dancer-actor Irene Castle dies in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. She partnered with her husband Vernon Castle in shows such as Watch Your Step, and she appeared alone in Miss 1917.

1973 National Lampoon's Lemmings plays at the Village Gate in New York City. The revue, inspired by the magazine National Lampoon, has a cast that includes future Saturday Night Live stars John Belushi and Chevy Chase, among others. The 11-month run is directed by Tony Hendra.

1978 Laughter!, Peter Barnes' black comedy, runs at London's Royal Court Theatre. Timothy West, Frances de La Tour, and Roger Kemp are featured.

1996 One day before the first Off-Broadway performance of Rent, author-composer Jonathan Larson dies of an aortic aneurysm. Much litigation follows regarding both the circumstances of his death and the authorship of the musical, but none of it tarnishes the runaway success of Larson's story of young, hand-to-mouth, downtown New Yorkers who refuse to pay "last year's rent."

2000 Brian d'Arcy James, Julia Murney, Idina Menzel, and Taye Diggs begin previews in Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party at Manhattan Theatre Club. The production is the first of two musicals with the same title and based upon the same source material that open in New York that season. Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe's The Wild Party opens three months later at the Virginia Theatre.

2002 At a special sold-out performance attended by Colm Wilkinson, Cameron Mackintosh, Judy Kuhn, and Trevor Nunn, Broadway's Les Misérables celebrates surpassing the 6,137-performance run of A Chorus Line, making it the second-longest running show in Broadway history. The cast performs a combination of songs from the two shows—"One" and "One Day More."

2003 Closing day for the gothic musical Dance of the Vampires after just 56 Broadway performances, losing its entire investment, estimated at $12 million. Based on the Roman Polanski film The Fearless Vampire Killers, the show had been a major hit in Vienna, where it originated. New York critics faulted its uneven tone, sometimes trying to be campy, sometimes trying to be scary.

2009 Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen's classic tale of an unhappily married woman in 1880s Norway, gets a fresh approach on Broadway with Christopher Shinn's new adaptation, starring Mary-Louise Parker. Ian Rickson directs the production at the Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre.

Today's Birthdays: W. Somerset Maugham 1874. Alan Brooks 1888. Mildred Dunnock 1901. Dean Jones 1931. Ruth Williamson 1954. Jenifer Lewis 1957.

Watch highlights from the 2011 Off-Broadway revival of Jonathan Larson's Rent:

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