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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: August 14

1888 Comedian DeWolf Hopper debuts his dramatic recitation of the poem Casey at the Bat at Wallack’s Theatre. It becomes a cornerstone of his act for the next 40 years.

1922 Lights Out opens on Broadway. The play written by Paul Dickey and Mann Page marked Page’s Broadway debut.

1928 Opening night for one of the great comedy classics of Broadway history. The Front Page, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur‘s story of hard-bitten reporters covering the story of a lifetime, bows at the Times Square Theatre, with Osgood Perkins and Lee Tracy.

1990 The Off-Off-Broadway gospel musical Smoke on the Mountain transfers to the Lamb’s Theatre Off-Broadway. The comedy, conceived and directed by Alan Bailey and written by Connie Ray, contains religion-oriented music by various composers. The show stars Kevin Chamberlin, who goes on to be featured in Broadway shows such as Dirty Blonde, Seussical, and The Addams Family.

1996 When Pigs Fly opens Off-Broadway, but Howard Crabtree (who conceived the revue) does not get to see it as he died of AIDS complications less than two months earlier. The musical revue with wild costumes, co-concieved by Mark Waldrop with music by Dick Gallagher, plays 334 performances at Off-Broadway’s Douglas Fairbanks Theatre.

1998 A new production of Ernest Thompson’s On Golden Pond opens at the Theatre at the Center in Indiana. Starring as the older couple who try to come to terms with their children and their lives, are Nanette Fabray and Art Kassul. The production runs through September 6.

2003 Broadway, Off-Broadway, and many regional shows are canceled when a power blackout deprives most of the Northeast U.S. of electric power.

2005 The life story of John Lennon comes to Broadway in a biographical revue, Lennon, directed by Don Scardino, with Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, acting as consultant. The production, in which multiple actors play the title character, confuses some critics and audiences, leading to a brief five-week run at the Broadhurst Theatre. The cast includes Will Chase, Chuck Cooper, Mandy Gonzalez, Terrence Mann, and Julia Murney.

2012 Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote, late playwright Foote’s three-play collection about the intimate daily encounters in small-town America, opens Off-Broadway as part of Primary Stages‘ season at 59E59. Comprised of the short plays Blind Date, The One-Armed Man, and The Midnight Caller, the cast includes Hallie Foote, Jayne Houdyshell, Devon Abner, and Jeremy Bobb.

Today’s Birthdays: Lee Adams (b. 1924) Alice Ghostley (1924–2007), Thomas Meehan (1929–2017), Tom Eyen (1940–1991), Steve Martin (b. 1945), Marcia Gay Harden (b. 1959), Sarah Brightman (b. 1960), Jamie Parker (b. 1979). Blake Daniel (b. 1989).

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