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

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 16

In 1969, the original Broadway production of 1776 opens.

Ken Howard, Henry LeClair, David Vosburgh, Howard Da Silva, and William Daniels in 1776 Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1914 Female impersonator Julian Eltinge is the lyricist and star of The Crinoline Girl. Otto Hauerbach provides the book and Percy Wenrich the score. The show plays the Knickerbocker Theatre for 11 weeks.

1918 Actor-manager Sir George Alexander dies in London at age 60. His most popular role was the lead in The Prisoner of Zenda. In 1889, he began producing the plays of Oscar Wilde and Arthur Wing Pinero at his own theatre.

1922 Phileas Fogg is asked to go Round in Fifty instead of 80 days. The musical runs at London's Hippodrome for 471 performances. Circling the globe are Renee Reel, George Robey, and Wallace and Barry Lupino.

1933 Right around the Three-Cornered Moon is a family that loses its money and doesn't know how to work. Ruth Gordon and Brian Donlevy are in the cast of the Gertrude Tokonogy comedy. It runs nearly 10 weeks at the Cort Theatre.

1948 An unusual double-bill of one-acts opens at the Cort Theatre: Thornton Wilder's The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden and Jean-Paul Sartre's The Respectful Prostitute. It runs 318 performances.

1969 1776 opens at the 46th Street Theatre starring Howard Da Silva, William Daniels, Ken Howard, and making her Broadway debut, Betty BuckleySherman Edwards wrote the music and lyrics and Peter Stone, the score.

1997 Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive opens at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre and stars Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse. The play transfers to the Century Theatre and wins the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (It was not eligible for the 1997 award owing to a scheduling technicality.)

2000 After years of international touring and even a TV broadcast, the Celtic dance revue Riverdance opens at the Gershwin Theatre under the title Riverdance - on Broadway and runs 605 performances.

2003 Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks opens her first new drama since winning the Pulitzer Prize the previous year, but many newspapers refuse to print the title. Fucking A, her new take on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, opens at the Public Theater's Anspacher Theater, with a cast that includes Mos Def, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Bobby Cannavale. Michael Greif directs.

2014 Mitch Leigh, the theatre composer and jingle writer who had a single, but enduring, hit musical with Man of La Mancha, and who, with a handful of repeated but dramatically escalating musical phrases, gave the world an aspirational anthem in "The Impossible Dream," dies at age 86. Leigh's other Broadway musicals include Cry for Us All, Home Sweet Homer, Sarava, Chu Chem, and Ain't Broadway Grand. Also an accomplished director, he received a Tony nomination for his work on the 1985 revival of The King and I.

2017 Danny DeVito makes his Broadway debut in a revival of Arthur Miller's The Price at the Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre. The production also stars Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub, and Jessica Hecht.

Today's Birthdays: Elsie Janis (1889-1956). Conrad Nagel (1897-1970). Henny Youngman (1906-1998). Jean Rosenthal (1912-1969). Leo McKern (1920-2002). Jerry Lewis (1926-2017). Sheila Bond (1928-2017). Jeffrey Richards (b. 1947). Victor Garber (b. 1949). Kate Nelligan (b. 1951). Jimmy Nail (b. 1954). Rick Holmes (b. 1963). Lauren Graham (b. 1967). Alan Tudyk (b. 1971).

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