Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 7 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 7 Happy birthday, Shuffle Along-Composer Eubie Blake!
Eubie Blake

1812 Birthday of author Charles Dickens, whose A Christmas Carol has been adapted to the stage dozens of times. Other major stage hits adapted from his work include The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Pickwick, and Oliver!

1883 Birthday of composer Eubie Blake, one of the first Black composers to write a Broadway musical. His scores include Shuffle Along, Lew Leslie's Blackbirds, and Swing It. His life and songs are the subject of the hit 1978 revue Eubie! He also appears as a character in George C. Wolfe's 2016 musical Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.

1922 Florence Eldridge stars in The Cat and the Canary. John Willard's melodrama runs 43 weeks at the National Theatre in New York.

1923 Oscar Eagle directs Edith Day in the musical Wildflower. Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II devised the plot; Herbert Stothart and Vincent Youmans wrote the music. Oscar Eagle stages.

1957 Cyril Ritchard plays a strange visitor to a Virginia home who claims to be an alien passing judgment on the Earth in Gore Vidal's A Visit to a Small Planet. The comedy runs 388 performances at the Booth Theatre.

1959 First play reading at Joe Cino's Caffe Cino in New York's Greenwich Village. The space opened as a bar in December 1958, and grows into the cradle of the Off-Off-Broadway movement under Cino's flamboyant stewardship. It's productions examine subjects no commercial producer of the time would touch, especially those with gay themes, and provides a launching pad for the earliest works of Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Jean Claude van Itallie, Tom Eyen, and many other playwrights. After Cino's suicide in 1967, his collaborators found Off-Broadway's Circle Rep.

1968 Two estranged brothers reunite to settle their father's estate in Arthur Miller's The Price at the Morosco Theatre. Pat Hingle, Kate Reid, Harold Gary, and Arthur Kennedy star. It runs 429 performances.

1971 The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, Saul Levitt and Daniel Berrigan's play about the trial of the Berrigan brothers' anti-war protests, opens at the Good Shepherd Faith Church in New York. The production stars Ed Flanders and Michael Kane and eventually transfers to Broadway's Lyceum Theatre.

1976 Philadelphia's Shubert Theatre, acquired by The Academy of Music in 1972, reopens with a revival of My Fair Lady.

1980 Film star Janet Gaynor makes her Broadway debut in Harold and Maude at the Martin Beck Theatre. The production is panned by critics and closes two days later.

2002 Film star Kevin Bacon stars on Broadway as a former minister suffering a crisis of faith in An Almost Holy Picture.

2012 A revival of Terrence McNally's music-kissed biographical drama Master Class, starring Tyne Daly as a late-career diva Maria Callas, opens at the West End's Vaudeville Theatre. Stephen Wadsworth once again directs Daly in the role, having previously done so in 2010 at the Kennedy Center and in 2011 on Broadway.

More of Today's Birthdays: George Ade (1866-1944). Eddie Bracken (1915-2002). Pete Postlethwaite (1946-2011). Jack Viertel (1949). James Spader (b. 1960). David Bryan (b. 1962). Eddie Izzard (b. 1962). Chris Rock (b. 1965). James Snyder (b. 1981). Tom Glynn-Carney (b. 1995). Matthew Gumley (b. 1997).

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