Today in Theatre History: OCTOBER 21

News   Today in Theatre History: OCTOBER 21 1961 Ellen Stewart acquires the basement space on the Lower East Side that she will eventually turn into Cafe La Mama. The theatre will foster its own company, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, in 1964. The company, which still operates under this name, was founded by Tom O'Horgan, best known for his direction of the rock musical Hair. This generation-defining musical was first produced at La Mama ETC in 1967 and went on to Broadway a year later.

1961 Ellen Stewart acquires the basement space on the Lower East Side that she will eventually turn into Cafe La Mama. The theatre will foster its own company, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, in 1964. The company, which still operates under this name, was founded by Tom O'Horgan, best known for his direction of the rock musical Hair. This generation-defining musical was first produced at La Mama ETC in 1967 and went on to Broadway a year later.

1977 A host of future female stars make up the cast of Wendy Wasserstein's Uncommon Women and Others, which opens tonight at the Marymount Manhattan Theatre, housed within Marymount Manhattan College on the Upper East Side. Jill Eikenberry, Glenn Close and Swoosie Kurtz play a group of women recalling their college days in this production, which will run only 22 performances. Although reviews are only lukewarm, Ms. Kurtz will go on to win an Obie for her role.

1983 The Brooks Atkinson box office was robbed at gunpoint while the star of its current show, Ben Kingsley, was asleep in his dressing room. The robbery took place in the afternoon and Kingsley was napping between performances of Edmund Kean.

1990 Underpaid and underrated, theatre actors get a boost today when Lloyd Richards, producer and director of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, commits to sharing future profits with cast members of the show. The show had been running since May 1990 and will run for a total of 329 performances, with the cast receiving at least some share of the profits.

1981 Playwrights Horizons opens the Christopher Durang double bill of The Actor's Nightmare and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All to You today. Elizabeth Franz plays the nun whose pupils all despise her. Clive Barnes wrote in the New York Post, "Durang takes irreverence to the point of saintliness — he not only makes a profession of it, he turns it into a religion." It ran for 947 performances. -- By Sam Maher and Steve Luber