Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: February 5

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1900 The scandalous Sappho is staged at Wallack’s Theater in New York. Based on the novel by Alphonse Daudet, it stars Olga Nethersole as an evil woman who seduces a pure young man to keep him as her lover. Purity prevails, however, and the young man convinces her to return to the criminal who is the father of her child. This debauchery only reigns for 29 performances, but reopens in April for 55 more.

1908 Birthday of joint twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who perform in vaudeville and The follies of Ziegfeld. Their lives are the subject of the 1997 musical side show.

1937 On your toes, conceived by George Abbott, Lorenz Hartand Richard Rodgers, opens at the Palace Theater in London. Vera Zorina is the star.

1949 Mae West returns to Broadway in a revival of her 1928 play Diamond Lil at the Coronet Theatre. Three weeks into the run, West slips into his hotel room and fractures his ankle, forcing the cancellation of the production. Performances finally resume in September at the Plymouth Theatre.

1959 Gwen Verdon is a Red and, most importantly, plays the intended victim of a serial killer in the musical choreographed and directed by Bob Fosse. Richard Kiley co-stars. It ran at the 46th Street Theater for 452 performances and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Verdon wins the fourth of his four Tony Awards for his role.

1970 The Battle of Shrivings, directed by Peter Hall and starring Wendy Hiller and John Gielgud, opens at the Lyrics Theater in London. It lasts 73 performances.

nineteen eighty one The Pam Gems Room Piaf opens on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre, where it runs for 165 performances. Jane Lapotaire wins a Tony Award for her performance as French singer-songwriter Edith Piaf.

2009 You’re Welcome America: One Last Night with George W. Bush opens at the Cort Theater on Broadway. Will Ferell stars as a comedic version of the 43rd President of the United States.

More birthdays from today: Maxine Elliot (1868-1940). John Daly Murphy (1873-1934). Frederick Lonsdale (1881-1954). John Carradine (1906-1988). red buttons (1919-2006). Jean Guare (born in 1938). Jonathan Freeman (born in 1950). Elizabeth Swados (1951-2016). Jennifer Jason Leigh (born in 1962). Laura Linney (born in 1964). Michael Sheen (born in 1969). Alex Brightman (born in 1987). Darren Criss (born in 1987). Jason Gotay (born in 1989).


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