Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: January 21


1903 Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion are seen on Broadway for the first time in the original musical The Wizard of Oz, with music by Paul Tietjens and book and lyrics by L. Frank Baum himself, based on his 1900 novel. Highlighted by vaudeville stars Fred Stone and David C. Montgomery as Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, the production has 293 performances.

1926 As a 300-year-old opera star who wants to live three hundred more, Helen Menken must find out The secret of Makroploulus. The drama, directed by Charles Hopkins, lasts 11 weeks.

1929 James Whale (from filmdom Frankenstein fame) directs The end of the journey at the Savoy Theater in London. RC Sherriff’s drama, depicting the life of British soldiers in the trenches of the First World War, ran for 485 performances.

1936 Raymond Massy, Pauline Lord, and Ruth Gordon are the solemn but devastating triangle Ethan Frome. The adaptation of Edith WhartonOwen’s short story and Donald Davis runs for 15 weeks at the National Theater in New York.

1950 Alec Guinness, Irene Worth, and Catherine Nesbitt soak up The cocktail. Written by TS Eliot, the drama runs at Henry Miller’s Theater in New York City for 409 performances.

1991 Spalding Gray tells the story of his long work on an unfinished novel in his autobiographical monologue monster in a box, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.

2010 A Broadway production of Cowardly Christmasthe 1942 comedy Laughter present, featuring Victor Garber as grizzled morning idol Garry Essendine, opens at Roundabout Theater Companyfrom the American Airlines Theater. Directed by Nicholas Martin, the cast also includes Harriet Harris as Acid Tongue Secretary Monica Reed and Brooks Ashmanskas as the mad young playwright Roland Maul.

2020 Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about an officer’s attempts to unravel the crime of murdering a black sergeant, A soldier’s game opens at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theater. Directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon, the revival (albeit the first Broadway production) stars Tony David nominee Alan Grier, Blair Underwood and Jerry O’Connell.

Today’s birthdays Paul Scofield (1922–2008). Jill Eikenberry (born in 1947). John Neuberger (born in 1953). Donna Lynne Champlin (born in 1971).

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