Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 28

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 28
Gregory Jbara and Trent Kowalik in Billy Elliot: The Musical.
Gregory Jbara and Trent Kowalik in Billy Elliot: The Musical. Carol Rosegg

1892 Birthday of playwright Elmer Rice (1892 -1967), author of many dramas including Street Scene, Counsellor-at-Law, Dream Girl, The Grand Tour and the libretto to Kurt Weill's musical based on Street Scene. He was also instrumental in the development of other playwrights' careers as co-producer of The Playwrights' Company.

1926 Anita Loos and her husband, John Emerson, have adapted her novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, to the stage. It opens tonight at the Times Square Theatre. June Walker starred in this comedy about a girl from Little Rock who collects wealthy men and costly gifts. It will run 199 performances and then open in London in 1928.

1961 Ossie Davis's new comedy, Purlie Victorious, opens tonight at the Cort Theatre. Davis himself stars in this production, which will be the basis for the 1963 film, "Gone are the Days" and the 1970 musical, Purlie. The comedy focuses on a young man from a small town in Georgia and his desire for the races to worship together in churches. Among Davis' co-stars are Ruby Dee, Godfrey Cambridge and Alan Alda. The production, which ran 261 performances, was directed by Howard Da Silva.

1961 Also today, actor Gregory Jbara is born in Wayne, Michigan. He will go on to win a Tony Award for his performance in Billy Elliot.

1977 'Tis the season to be Bram Stoker, as one of two adaptations of his novel "Dracula" opens Off-Broadway tonight. The Passion of Dracula by Bob Hall and David Richmond haunts the Cherry Lane Theatre, with Christopher Bernau vamping it up as the notorious Count. On Oct. 20, Frank Langella will take on the role in the Broadway production of Dracula by John L. Balderston and Hamilton Deane.

1982 Al Pacino and Ellen Burstyn become the new co-artistic directors of the Actor's Studio, which began its first session on October 5, 1947. Burstyn was also the president of Actor's Equity – the first woman elected to that post.

1999 Canadian theatregoers, Andrew Lloyd Webber fans, and headbangers with black-and-white painted faces unite as Paul Stanley, the frontman for the rock band KISS, dons the mask of The Phantom of the Opera at Toronto's Pantages Theatre. The singer, reprising the role he played earlier in the year, will close out the production which extended for a month.

2010 The Broadway premiere of Brief Encounter, the Kneehigh Theatre's highly theatrical and widely acclaimed adaptation of Noël Coward's stage and film romance, opens at Studio 54. The U.K.-originated staging, adapted and directed by Emma Rice, includes puppets, songs, incidental music, dance, melodrama, film projections and comedy to create a unique hybrid.

2014 A revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy You Can't Take It With You opens on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre. The starry cast includes James Earl Jones, Elizabeth Ashley, Julie Halston, Kristine Nielsen, Mark Linn-Baker and Annaleigh Ashford. Ashford will win a Tony Award for her performance as Essie.

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