Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 4

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 4
A scene from the original 1938 Broadway production of <i>Our Town</i>.
A scene from the original 1938 Broadway production of Our Town. Vandamm Theatrical Photographs / The New York Public LIbrary

1938 Thornton Wilder turns the spotlight on the simple trials and tribulations of Our Town. Martha Scott and Frank Craven are among the cast at the Henry Miller's Theatre. It wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and runs 336 performances. David Cromer's 2009 Off-Broadway revival surpasses that total on December 16, 2009, becoming the longest-running production of the play in its history.

1946 Playing the supposedly dumb blonde to the hilt, Judy Holliday stars in Born Yesterday. Garson Kanin penned the story, which also features Paul Douglas. It plays 1,642 performances, and Holliday reprises her role in the film adaptation, winning an Oscar.

1958 Tony Randall stars as a sailor with a woman in at least two ports in Oh Captain! The musical, with songs by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, is directed by José Ferrer. It runs at the Alvin Theatre in New York for 192 performances.

1982 A North Carolina highway rest stop opens on Broadway when the hit Off-Broadway musical Pump Boys and Dinettes transfers to the Princess Theatre. The country-flavored revue about the workers at an adjacent gas station and diner was conceived and written by its original cast: John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel, and Jim Wann. It runs 573 performances.

1999 Hang on Snoopy! At least till tonight, when you and the whole gang step out of the strip and into the Ambassador Theatre in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Anthony Rapp, Roger Bart, and Kristin Chenoweth are among the cast of the revival of Clark Gesner's musical. Director Michael Mayer adapted the 32 year-old show; new songs were added by musical arranger Andrew Lippa. Chenoweth and Bart both win Tony Awards.

2003 Opening night on Broadway for Richard Greenberg's baseball drama, Take Me Out. The story of a baseball star who comes out as gay wins the 2003 Tony Award as Best Play and star Denis O'Hare wins a Tony for Best Featured Actor.

2004 Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera plays its 6,681 performance, becoming the second longest-running production in Broadway history, surpassing Les Misérables. It surpasses Cats to become number one in January 2006.

2005 Ossie Davis, the Tony Award-nominated actor-playwright and icon of 20th-century African-American theatre, is found dead in his hotel room in Miami. He wrote and created the title role of Purlie Victorious on Broadway, and wrote the book for the musical version, Purlie. His Broadway career stretched back to Jeb in 1946. He was nominated for two Tony Awards: Best Supporting Actor for Jamaica and Best Musical for Purlie.

2018 Tony Award winner John Mahoney, who played Martin Crane on the long-running TV series Frasier and appeared in over 30 productions with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, dies at the age of 77. He received the 1986 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Artie Shaughnessy in the original Broadway production of The House of Blue Leaves.

More of Today's Birthdays: Richard Boleslavsky 1889. Ugo Betti 1892. Eddie Foy, Jr. 1905. Robert Coote 1909. Conrad Bain 1923. David Newman 1937. Jonathan Larson 1960.

Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., and Karen Olivo rehearse for a 2014 production of Jonathan Larson's autobiographical musical Tick, Tick... Boom!:

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