1896 Broadway premiere of Secret Service, which becomes a perennial touring hit for its author and star, William Gillette.
1927 The Broadway premiere of Dracula, an adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, which fathered generations of film and stage adaptations. The original Broadway bloodsucker was played by Bela Lugosi, who would recreate his career-making role on film.
1955 Today is the opening of The Diary of Anne Frank 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. Diary stars Susan Strasberg as Anne and Joseph Schildkraut as her father. The show will run 717 performances.
1960 Laurence Olivier stars today 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 "Home Alone" Culkin. Peter Glenville is the director. This production runs 193 performances.
1966 Frank Marcus' British comedy about radio broadcasting and lesbians, The Killing of Sister George, opens tonight at the Belasco Theatre. Beryl Reid, Eileen Atkins and Lally Bowers star. The show will run 205 performances. Although a screen version with both Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn starring with 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 tonight 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, which will run 68 performances.
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 this tale of Italian grandparents who conspire to keep their grandson from moving away from them.
2000 Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi tries his hand at the stage as his Les Mizrahi begins 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 will be the premiere of Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour, which will move to Broadway.
2003 Also today, an anonymous donor who recently 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.
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.
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 will go on to win five Tony Awards, including Best Play, Actor in a Play (Sharp) and Direction of a Play (Marianne Elliott).