Theater

Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: October 5

1896 Broadway premiere of Secret Service, which becomes a perennial touring hit for its author and star, William Gillette.

1908 Joshua Logan, director of South Pacific, Mister Roberts, Picnic, and many other Broadway shows, is born.

1927 The Broadway premiere of Dracula, an adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, which fathers generations of film and stage adaptations. The original Broadway bloodsucker is played by Bela Lugosi, who later recreates his career-making role on film.

1944 Celeste Holm stars in the new musical Bloomer Girl, opening on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre. Set on the eve of the Civil War, Holm plays Evelina, the daughter of a hoopskirt manufacturer who supports the feminist movement to replace hoopskirts with bloomers, and refuses to marry her Southern suitor until he frees his slave. The musical features songs by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, and choreography by Agnes de Mille.

1955 The Diary of Anne Frank opens at the Cort Theatre. Written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, the drama is based on the manuscript left behind by a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust. Susan Strasberg stars as Anne, with Joseph Schildkraut playing her father.

1960 Laurence Olivier stars in Jean Anouilh‘s Becket at the St. James Theatre. Anthony Quinn plays King Henry to Olivier’s Thomas Becket. The King’s younger son is played by Kit Culkin, future father of Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone). Peter Glenville is the director.

1966 Frank Marcus‘ British comedy about radio broadcasting and lesbians, The Killing of Sister George, opens at the Belasco Theatre. Beryl Reid, Eileen Atkins, and Lally Bowers star. Although a screen version starring Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, and Bette Davis is reported by Variety as “in the making,” the film comes out in 1968 with Beryl Reed.

1995 The 1970 Sondheim musical Company is revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company. It stars Boyd Gaines, Veanne Cox, Jane Krakowski, and LaChanze. The new song, “Marry Me a Little,” is added in this revival.

1998 Joe DiPietro‘s familial comedy Over The River and Through The Woods opens Off-Broadway at the John Houseman Theatre. The composer’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change cohort, Joel Bishoff, assumes directing duties once more for the tale of Italian grandparents who conspire to keep their grandson from moving away.

2000 Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi tries his hand at the stage as his Les Mizrahi begins Off-Broadway at the Greenwich House Theatre. Mizrahi, the subject of the successful 1995 documentary film, Unzipped, not only sings and dances in the new show but designs the sets and costumes.

2001 Mamma Mia!, a musical based on the pop hits of the rock group ABBA, begins previews at the Winter Garden Theatre with one of the biggest advance sales ever for a musical.

2002 At its annual Light the Night Gala, South Coast Repertory in California dedicates its new Folino Theatre Center, fifty percent larger than the company’s former space. The inaugural production is the premiere of Richard Greenberg‘s The Violet Hour, which moves to Broadway the following year.

2003 Legends Eartha Kitt and Marni Nixon return to Broadway, taking roles in the Tony-winning revival of Nine.

2003 An anonymous donor who saw the staging of Tony Kushner‘s Homebody/Kabul at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre is so moved by the drama about Americans in war-torn Afghanistan that he/she purchases all the remaining tickets to today’s evening performance—$50,000 worth—for distribution to the public.

2004 The Goodman Theatre premieres Arthur Miller‘s Finishing the Picture, a prophetic title, as it turns out to be the last new Miller play produced in his lifetime.

2006 The first Broadway revival of A Chorus Line opens, with Michael Bennett‘s original staging and choreography recreated by Bob Avian and Baayork Lee.

2006 A revival Martin Sherman’s Bent opens in the West End with Alan Cumming starring. Daniel Kramer directs at Trafalgar Studios.

2008 13, the middle school-set musical with songs by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, opens at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. A 13-member cast of actual teenagers tells the story of a boy facing his 13th birthday and Bar Mitzvah in a new town. The cast includes future pop star Ariana Grande.

2010 Or You Could Kiss Me by Neil Bartlett and Handspring Puppet Company opens at London’s National Theatre. Set in the winter of 2036 in a shabby apartment in a South African seaside town, two old men search for a way to say goodbye after a lifetime spent together.

2010 Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth’s In Transit debuts Off-Broadway at 59E59. The acapella musical, directed by Joe Calarco, stars Steve French, Celisse Henderson, Hannah Laird, Chesney Snow, Graham Stevens, Denise Summerford, and Tommar Wilson.

2011 The 2010 Broadway production of Alfred Uhry‘s Driving Miss Daisy opens a limited engagement at the West End’s Wyndam’s Theatre. Vanessa Redgrave, James Earl Jones, and Boyd Gaines all reprise their performances, once again directed by David Esbjornson.

2014 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Simon Stephens‘ adaptation of Mark Haddon‘s best-selling novel, opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Alex Sharp makes his Broadway debut as Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy who must get to the bottom of the mysterious death of his neighbor’s dog. The production wins five Tony Awards, including Best Play, Actor in a Play (Sharp), and Direction of a Play (Marianne Elliott).

2015 The NYC revival of Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine opens at Atlantic Theater Company in a production directed by James Macdonald and starring Brooke Bloom, Sean Dugan, Lucy Owen, Chris Perfetti, John Sanders, Izzie Steele, and Clarke Thorell.

2016 The Roads to Home, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Horton Foote, officially opens at Cherry Lane Theatre. The cast features Tony winner Harriet Harris, Devon Abner and Tony nominee Hallie Foote, the late playwright’s daughter. Michael Wilson directs.

More of today’s birthdays: William David (1882–1965), Larry Fine (1902–1975), Donald Pleasence (1919–1995), William Tabbert (1921–1974) Glynis Johns (b. 1923), Herbert Kretzmer (b. 1925), Diane Cilento (1933–2011), Heather MacRae (b. 1946), Jenna Russell (b. 1967), Christiane Noll (b.1968), Heather Headley (b. 1974), Jesse Eisenberg (b. 1983)

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