Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 25 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 25 In 1979, the original Broadway production of Evita starring Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone.
Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

1928 Chee-Chee, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's musical about castration in ancient China, opens to searing reviews and goes on to close after just 31 performances, the team's shortest run.

1935 Winterset, Maxwell Anderson's verse drama about a man determined to find justice after his father was wrongfully executed, opens on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre. Starring Richard Bennett, Eduardo Ciannelli, and Burgess Meredith, it runs 179 performances before heading on a national tour, and returns to Broadway for an additional 16 performances after winning the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play. In response to the Pulitzer Prize being awarded to Idiot's Delight over Winterset, New York Times drama critic Brooks Atkinson writes "If Winterset does not mean more to the arts and the thought of the theatre today and tomorrow than Idiot's Delight—in short, if it is not a better play now and always—then, as John Anderson said in his celebrated renunciation of the Critics Circle award, 'I am Admiral Dewey.'"

1945 Despite reports of bad acting and poor production quality, the new Tennessee Williams and Donald Windham play, You Touched Me, opens at the Booth Theatre, beginning a tepidly-reviewed run of 109 performances. Williams and Windham wrote the play based on a D. H. Lawrence story for stars Montgomery Clift, Edmund Gwenn, and Marianne Stewart.

1961 Frank Fay, the vaudevillian and star of Harvey, dies at age 69. The actor, who at one time was married to Barbara Stanwyck, was confined to a hospital the previous week in Santa Monica, California and deemed legally incompetent.

1963 John Osborne's Luther, the story of the priest who launched the Protestant Reformation, opens on Broadway, en route to a 211-performance run and the 1964 Tony Award as Best Play.

1963 Sammy Davis, Jr. is reported in Variety as having turned down Laurence Olivier's offer to be Iago to his Othello. Davis feels he is just not ready for the dramatic demands of the role.

1979 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are the princes of Broadway as their new musical, Evita, opens at the Broadway Theatre. The very successful musical continues to run for 1,567 performances. Patti LuPone stars as Eva Peron, with Mandy Patinkin as Che Guevara, the quasi-narrator of the musical. Clive Barnes of the New York Post reports that "Evita is a stunning, exhilarating theatrical experience, especially if you don't think about it too much."

1997 Riverdance, the showcase of Irish dance and music that played sold-out engagements in Dublin and London in 1995, comes to New York for a third run at Radio City Music Hall. The show, which had two runs in 1996, returns to the Manhattan venue once more in 1998 before finally restaging itself for an official Broadway run March 16, 2000 to August 26, 2001.

2003 By a macabre coincidence, Edward Said, the Palestinian-born Columbia University professor who was the likely model for a character in the play Omnium Gatherum, dies, the same day the Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros drama opens Off-Broadway. Said was 67, and suffered from leukemia.

2008 Harry Potter film star Daniel Radcliffe makes his Broadway debut opposite Tony and Olivier Award winner Richard Griffiths in a revival of Equus. Peter Shaffer's Tony-winning drama tells the story of a psychiatrist (Griffiths) who becomes absorbed in the strange case of a young man (Radcliffe) who blinds a stable of horses.

2011 Perfect Crime, Warren Manzi’s long-running thriller that opened in 1987, celebrates its 10,000th performance Off-Broadway. The cast includes original cast member Catherine Russell, who has been with the show for 24 years, securing herself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

2018 The world premiere of Theresa Rebeck's Bernhardt/Hamlet opens on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre. Janet McTeer stars as trailblazing 19th-century French actor Sarah Bernhardt, who famously took on the title role in Hamlet in 1899.

2018 Merle Debuskey, one of the most prominent press agents ever to ply his trade on Broadway, and Joe Papp's right-hand man during the New York Shakespeare Festival's first decades, dies at age 95. He represented more than 500 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows over the course of his career, and was president of the press agents' union ATPAM for 25 years.

More of Today's Birthdays: Charles B. Cochran (1872-1951). Harriet Hoctor (1905-1977). Robert Wright (1914-2005). Mark Hamill (b. 1951). Christopher Reeve (1952-2004). Jayne Houdyshell (b. 1954). Michael McGrath (b. 1957). Tate Donovan (b. 1963). Catherine Zeta-Jones (b. 1969).

Look Back at Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin in Evita on Broadway

More Today in Theatre History

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