Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 5 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 5 In 1959, Gwen Verdon stars in Redhead on Broadway.
Gwen Verdon (center) in Redhead Vandamm Studio/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

1900 The scandalous Sapho is staged at Wallack's Theatre in New York. Based on Alphonse Daudet's novel, it stars Olga Nethersole as an evil woman who seduces a pure young man to keep as her lover. Purity wins out, however, and the young man convinces her to return to the felon who is the father of her child. This debauchery reigns for just 29 performances, but reopens in April for 55 more.

1908 Birthday of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who star in vaudeville and the Ziegfeld Follies. Their lives are the subject of the 1997 musical Side Show.

1937 On Your Toes, devised by George Abbott, Lorenz Hart, and Richard Rodgers, opens at the Palace Theatre in London. Vera Zorina stars.

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 in her hotel room and fractures her ankle, forcing the production to be canceled. Performances finally resume in September at the Plymouth Theatre.

1959 Gwen Verdon is a Redhead and, more importantly, plays the intended victim of a serial killer in the musical choreographed and directed by Bob Fosse. Richard Kiley co-stars. It runs at the 46th Street Theatre for 452 performances and wins the Tony Award for Best Musical. Verdon earns the fourth of her four Tony Awards for her role.

1970 The Battle of Shrivings, directed by Peter Hall and starring Wendy Hiller and John Gielgud, opens at London's Lyrics Theatre. It runs for 73 performances.

1981 Pam Gems' play 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 Édith Piaf.

2009 You're Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush opens at Broadway's Cort Theatre. Will Ferell stars as a comical version of the 43rd President of the United States. 

More of Today's Birthdays: Maxine Elliott (1868-1940). John Daly Murphy (1873-1934). Frederick Lonsdale (1881-1954). John Carradine (1906-1988). Red Buttons (1919-2006). John Guare (b. 1938). Jonathan Freeman (b. 1950). Elizabeth Swados (1951-2016). Jennifer Jason Leigh (b. 1962). Laura Linney (b. 1964). Michael Sheen (b. 1969). Alex Brightman (b. 1987). Darren Criss (b. 1987). Jason Gotay (b. 1989).

More Today in Theatre History

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