PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: JANUARY 14

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Christopher Reichheld and Anne Bradley
14 Jan 2014

1903 Opening night of The Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett play about a child, much in the same vein as her The Secret Garden. Little Princess will run just 34 performances.



1904 Birthday of Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), who designed stylish costumes for many Broadway shows, most memorably My Fair Lady in 1956, but also sets and costumes for Saratoga, Coco, Tenderloin, The Grass Harp, The Chalk Garden and others.

1929 This is a Gypsy who doesn't 'bump it with a trumpet' her 'gimmick' is asphyxiation. Maxwell Anderson's heroine is torn between two men and decides to kill herself. Staged by George Cukor, this drama will run just two months at the Klaw Theatre in New York. In Anderson's script but not in the Broadway run the heroine decides to save herself at the last moment.

1930 George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin team up with George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind for the first new musical of the 1930s, Strike Up the Band, a satire on big business that shows a tycoon spurring the country on to war over Swiss cheese. It features the comedy team of Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough. The show runs 191 performances, which will encourage the team to move on to its next satire, the Pulitzer-winning Of Thee I Sing.

1954 The Boy Friend cavorts at the Wyndham's in London. Sandy Wilson's spoof of musicals of the '20s will run 2,084 performances.

1960 The Zoo Story, Edward Albee's first produced play, runs at the Provincetown Theatre in New York. William Daniels and George Maharis are featured as the two combatants. It runs in conjunction with Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape for 582 performances.

1993 Opening night of Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Anna Christie, starring Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson. Their onstage chemistry is so successful, the two later marry. The production will receive the 1993 Tony Award for Best Revival.

1999 Fosse opens its razzle-dazzle tonight at the Broadhurst Theatre. The cast of dancers step to the moves of the late Bob Fosse, as choreographed by Ann Reinking and re-created by Chet Walker. Richard Maltby, Jr. and Reinking direct, with artistic advice given by Gwen Verdon. The production will win three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and go to run for 1,093 performances.

1999 Polish avant-garde director Jerzy Grotowski dies of leukemia at age 65. Grotowski became a legend by treating theatre as a ritualistic, communal religious experience in a bare-bones style. His seminal book, "Towards a Poor Theatre," was published in 1968.

2004 Uta Hagen, 84, the legendary co-star of the original Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? who commanded the respect of theatregoers and students alike (she penned "Respect for Acting," an essential for acting students), dies at her Manhattan home.

2006 Shelley Winters, the candid, unpretentious, Oscar-winning actress who played brassy, blowsy supporting roles in many memorable films and a handful of notable stage turns, including A Hatful of Rain dies today in Beverly Hills, at age 85.

2009 Cameron Mackintosh's revamped version of his 1994 production of Lionel Bart's Oliver! officially opens in London at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The production stars Rowan Atkinson as Fagin, with Jodie Prenger – who won her role by public vote, following the BBC 1 Reality TV show "I'd Do Anything" – as Nancy.

More of Today's Birthdays: Trevor Nunn 1940. Faye Dunaway 1941. Holland Taylor 1943. Kathleen Chalfant 1945. Julia Murney 1969.