Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 6 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 6 In 1974, Liza Minnelli opens a concert engagement at the Winter Garden Theatre.
Liza Minnelli in her 1974 concert engagement at the Winter Garden Theatre. Sony Music Archives

1768 Birthday of John Durang, identified by scholars as one of the first American-born professional dancers and actors. He becomes known for his "Dwarf Dance," "Sailor's Hornpipe," and circus appearances, as well as acting roles in Philadelphia (then the American theatre capital), New York, and on tour throughout the early United States. Durang is also a puppeteer, clown, singer, and rope-dancer. He is a distant ancestor of author and performer Christopher Durang.

1902 The Toreador is actually a discharged servant who tries bullfighting, mixing with a mad anarchist's bomb plot, and singing too! The musical plays the arena of the Knickerbocker Theatre for 146 performances. Music is provided by Ivan Caryll and Lionel Monckton. Francis Wilson is the man behind the cape.

1930 An American soldier on leave meets a chorus girl on Waterloo Bridge. Robert E. Sherwood's drama stars Glenn Hunter and June Walker. Winchell Smith directs the 64 performances.

1937 Walter Huston stars in Othello at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York. Director Robert Edmond Jones designed the production for the Opera House in Central City, Colorado before overseeing its odyssey East.

1950 Burgess Meredith stars in the opening night of the musical fantasy Happy as Larry, which had been a major hit in London, but suffers a three-performance flop on Broadway.

1954 Twelfth Night directed by Denis Carey is at London's Old Vic. The cast includes John Neville, Claire Bloom, and Richard Burton.

1963 Lionel Bart's hit West End musical Oliver! arrives in New York at the Imperial Theatre. A cast including Georgia Brown (Nancy), Clive Revill (Fagin), Barry Humphries (Mr. Sowerberry), and a pre-Monkees Davy Jones (The Artful Dodger) introduce Broadway audiences to songs such as "Where Is Love?," "Consider Yourself," and "As Long As He Needs Me." The production runs 774 performances.

1974 Liza Minnelli opens her 23-performance concert engagement at the Winter Garden Theatre. The evening is directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, features original musical material written by Fred Ebb and John Kander, and includes Marvin Hamlisch as musical coordinator.

1975 Bill Gunn's Black Picture Show runs at the Vivian Beaumont Theater for 41 performances.

1983 Kate Nelligan stars as a former member of the French resistance who searches for meaning in her postwar life in David Hare's drama, Plenty, which opens at the Plymouth Theatre, and runs 92 performances.

1990 Michael Shawn, choreographer for Legs Diamond, is awarded a $175,000 settlement from the Nederlanders. Shawn claimed he was fired because he tested positive for the AIDS virus.

2005 Richard Foreman, the respected downtown Manhattan theatre auteur, unveils his latest cerebral vaudeville, The Gods Are Pounding My Head (Lumberjack Messiahs) at the Off-Off-Broadway Ontological Theatre. The theatre says it's to be the last in a series that goes back to the 1960s.

2017 Harold Prince directs a revival of Leonard Bernstein's musical Candide for New York City Opera, starring Linda Lavin, Gregg Edelman, and Jay Armstrong Johnson. Prince previously won a Tony Award for his direction of a 1974 Broadway revival of the musical.

More of Today's Birthdays: Bonnie Franklin (1944-2013). Rowan Atkinson (b. 1955). Cara Seymour (b. 1964). A.R. Rahman (b. 1966). Genevieve O'Reilly (b. 1977). Eddie Redmayne (b. 1982).

See Jay Armstrong Johnson and Linda Lavin in the NY City Opera Production of Candide

More Today in Theatre History

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