PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: MARCH 19

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Ernio Hernandez and Anne Bradley
19 Mar 2014

1872 Birthday of singer/actress Anna Held, future wife of Florenz Ziegfeld, and the classic sexy French flirt of her era. She will play this role in a series of musical vehicles including La Poupee, The French Maid, Mam'selle Napoleon, The Parisian Model and Miss Innocence.



1901 Birthday of groundbreaking set designer Jo Mielziner (1901-1976) who will win five Tony Awards for his designs, which included sets for original productions of Death of a Salesman, Guys and Dolls, A Streetcar Named Desire, South Pacific, The King and I, Gypsy, 1776, and dozens more.

1915 Actress and future "shrew" Patricia Morison is born today in New York. She will go on to star with Alfred Drake in Kiss Me, Kate in 1948. Her father is actor-playwright William Morrison.

1931 Producer Charles Cochran's Cochran's 1931 Revue has a book and music conceived by Noël Coward. It treads the boards at London's Pavillion Theatre. Bobby Clark, Melville Cooper and Ada May are in the cast.

1953 Jo Van Fleet and Martin Balsam are two of the inhabitants of Camino Real. Tennessee Williams' drama runs just seven weeks at the National Theatre in New York.

1962 Ray Bolger stars in the musical All American, with a score by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, and libretto by Mel Brooks. It runs 80 performances and introduces the song "Once Upon a Time."

1998 Proving everything old can be very new again, Cabaret transforms the Henry Miller's Theatre into the Kit Kat Klub. Directed by Sam Mendes and co-directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall, this revival opens tonight with Natasha Richardson, Ron Rifkin, Mary Louise Wilson and Alan Cumming. It will go on to win four Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical. The show will later move uptown to Studio 54, where it will see several big-name stars such as Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary McCormack, and Susan Egan play the role of Sally Bowles. It will also become one of the few Broadway revivals to run longer than the original.

2000 A new staging of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten, starring Cherry Jones and Gabriel Byrne, officially opens at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre. The revival and its stars earn Tony nominations, and Roy Dotrice wins for Featured Actor in a Play.

2002 British actor Henry Goodman takes over one of the most coveted roles on Broadway: Max Bialystock in the musical The Producers. But he lasts only about a month, to be summarily replaced by understudy Brad Oscar.

2003 Opening night for the R-rated puppet musical Avenue Q, by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty, at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre. It will move to Broadway by fall, and go on to win the 2004 Tony Award as Best Musical.

2008 Paul Scofield, whose sonorous voice, commanding presence and mournfully dignified mien made him one of the leading players of the London and international stage during the latter half of the 20th century, dies of leukemia at age 86. He is perhaps best known for creating the role of Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's history play A Man For All Seasons.

2009 A revival of the Arthur Laurents-Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim musical West Side Story opens on Broadway at the Palace Theatre. Directed by librettist Laurents, the staging weaves Spanish into the book and songs, with "I Feel Pretty" and "A Boy Like That" delivered entirely in Spanish.

2012 Cris Alexander, who played one of the three sailors in the original Broadway production of the musical On the Town, dies at age 92. Mr. Alexander's Broadway credits also included nebbishy Walgreens manager Frank Lippencott in Wonderful Town, and obsessed playwright Roland Maule in Present Laughter.

More of Today's Birthdays: Moms Mabley 1894. Hugh Wheeler 1912. Phyllis Newman 1933. Renee Taylor 1933. Glenn Close 1947. Neil LaBute 1963.