Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: October 28

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: October 28
Kevin Kline as Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV.
Kevin Kline as Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV. Paul Kolnik

1928 Six-time Tony-winning costume designer Florence Klotz is born today. Her designs will be worn by the original casts of Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, On the Twentieth Century, Rags, City of Angels, Kiss of the Spider Woman and dozens more Broadway shows.

1954 N. Richard Nash's play about a con-man's visit to a small Western town, The Rainmaker, opens tonight at the Cort Theatre. Geraldine Page is the star for the Broadway run of 125 performances and then will go on to also do the London run in 1956. This critically-acclaimed production will be made into a movie in 1956 and also be the basis for a stage musical, 110 in the Shade, in 1963. Woody Harrelson and Jayne Atkinson starred in a 1999 revival of the show for the Roundabout Theatre Company.

1979 Arnold Soboloff, who is playing Smee, the sidekick to Captain Hook, in Peter Pan at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, dies today of a heart attack. He has just finished a song in Act II of the show and has gone off into the wings, where he will collapse. He is 48 years old.

1985 Wallace Shawn's Aunt Dan and Lemon opens at the Public Theater today, with Shawn and Linda Hunt in the cast. It will run 191 shows, even though Variety portrays it as "stupifyingly dull ... Another whatsit with no plot, flabby writing, no scene structure, arbitrary and unmotivated characterizations and extraneous graphic sex. In short, zero dramatic craftsmanship."

2001 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn's revised musical confection, By Jeeves, opens at Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre, some 27 years after it opened in Great Britain as simply Jeeves. Broadway audiences don't take to this musical version of P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooser stories, however, and it goes on to close after just 73 performances, the shortest run ever for a Lloyd Webber show in its Broadway debut.

2003 Kevin Kline plays Falstaff in Lincoln Center Theater's production of William Shakespeare's Henry IV. Also in the cast are Ethan Hawke, Michael Hayden, Audra McDonald, Dana Ivey, Byron Jennings and Richard Easton. The production will win the 2004 Tony Award as Best Revival of a Play.

2010 The first New York City revival of Tony Kushner's ambitious two-part, six-and-a-half-hour Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes opens Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre. Directed by Michael Greif, the groundbreaking Reagan-era-set epic about fictional and historical characters commingling in the time of AIDS features Robin Bartlett, Christian Borle, Bill Heck, Zoe Kazan, Billy Porter, Zachary Quinto, Robin Weigert and Frank Wood.

2012 All Broadway shows are cancelled tonight as New York prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. In the wake of the widespread flooding and blackouts caused by the storm, performances will not resume until Oct. 31.

2013 Wallace Shawn stars in the American premiere of his Grasses of a Thousand Colors, opening Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. The play is about a doctor who tries to solve world hunger by rejiggering the metabolisms of animals to tolerate eating their own kind. It also stars Julie Hagerty, Emily Cass McDonnell, Kristina Mueller and Jennifer Tilly.

More of Today's Birthdays: Elsa Lanchester 1902. Dody Goodman 1915. Cleo Laine 1927. Joan Plowright 1929. Jane Alexander 1939. Justin Guarini 1978.

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