Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: February 17

playbill-vault’s-today-in-theatre-history:-february-17

In 2015, Hamilton opens Off-Broadway at the Public Theater.

1902 Joseph Hart’s popular musical Foxy Grandpa opens a 120-performance run at the 14th Street Theatre.

1916 Al Jolson stars as the chauffeur to a millionaire who dreams of being Robinson Crusoe, Jr. Sigmund Romberg scores and Jolson improvises with his favorite songs. The musical runs at the Winter Garden for 139 performances.

1919 It’s a spoof of operettas at the Cohan and Harris Theatre in New York. The Royal Vagabond, with a score by Anselm Goetzl added to by George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin, runs 208 performances.

1925 John Barrymore‘s Hamlet reigns at the Haymarket in London. Fay Compton, Constance Collier, and Malcolm Keen join him for the 67 performances.

1932 It’s time to Face the Music at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Irving Berlin provides the score to Moss Hart‘s book. For 21 weeks audiences are asked “Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee.”

1976 Opening night for the infamously short-lived Rockabye Hamlet. Cliff Jones‘ rock musical version of Shakespeare’s tragedy runs 7 performances at the Minskoff Theatre. The cast includes Larry Marshall as Hamlet, Beverly D’Angelo as Ophelia (who commits suicide by strangling herself with her immense microphone cord), and Meat Loaf as a Priest.

1982 Instructor-teacher Lee Strasberg, the foremost advocate of Method acting, dies at the age of 80. “Art is longer than life,” he once said, and his style of acting lives on at his Lee Strasberg Institute of the Theatre in both New York and Los Angeles.

1999 The Drama Desk organization officially celebrates its 50th anniversary. Six years after its inception, the Drama Desk Awards were created to recognize excellence in not only Broadway, but Off-Broadway theatre as well.

2003 Walloped by a blizzard that drops more than 20 inches of snow in Times Square, several Broadway shows cancel performances.

2015 Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s musical exploring the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, opens Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. Miranda stars in the title role, alongside a cast that includes Brian d’Arcy James, Phillipa Soo, Christopher Jackson, and Leslie Odom, Jr. Following its sold-out run at the Public, it transfers to Broadway in July of the same year. Hamilton goes on to win 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Today’s Birthdays: Arthur Kennedy (1914-1990). Kathleen Freeman (1919-2001). Hal Holbrook (1925-2021). Patricia Routledge (b. 1929). Barry Humphries, a.k.a. Dame Edna (b. 1934). Alan Bates (1934-2003). Cris Groenendaal (b. 1948). Don Scardino (b. 1948). Becky Ann Baker (b. 1953). Billie Joe Armstrong (b. 1972).

Watch highlights from the 2015 Off-Broadway production of Hamilton:

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