PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: SEPTEMBER 30

By David Gewirtzman
and Ernio Hernandez, Robert Viagas and Daniel Fischer
30 Sep 2013

1915 The huge Hippodrome Theatre opens one of its most successful extravaganzas, Hip! Hip! Hooray!. Described by the New York Times as "a gargantuan spectacle, smarter and more sumptuous than any that stage had ever known," the cast includes magician Charles T. Aldrich, clown Dippy Diers, and John Philip Sousa with his band. It will run 425 performances.



1930 A hung jury frees Mae West of obscenity charges for her play, Pleasure Man.

1933 As Thousands Cheer, hailed as one of the greatest stage revues ever, opens at the Music Box Theatre. Moss Hart is author of the "living newspaper"-style sketches. Irving Berlin's score includes "Easter Parade," "Heat Wave" and "Supper Time." Stars include Ethel Waters, Marilyn Miller, Clifton Webb, and Jose Limon. Though it opens in the depths of the Depression, it runs for 400 performances.

1939 Birthday of Len Cariou, future star of Sweeney Todd and other plays and musicals.

1953 Deborah Kerr stars as a teacher's wife who tries to help a "sensitive" teenage boy become a "real man" in the racy-for-its-time drama, Tea and Sympathy, which is one of the first reasonably serious attempts to test the subject of homosexuality on stage. The cast also includes John Kerr (who wins a Tony Award), Leif Erickson, Alan Sues and Dick York. It runs 712 performances. Later in the run, Tony Perkins replaces Kerr as the young man.

1954 Julie Andrews makes her Broadway debut in Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend.

1983 James Earl Jones, playing in Athol Fugard's Master Harold ...and the Boys in Toronto, suffers a detached retina. He will be replaced by Zakes Mokae.

1999 A solo show sets out on a 29-city national tour today: Thirteen years after winning a Best Actress Tony Award for her star turn playing multiple characters in Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, actress Lily Tomlin returns to the material. A year later, the production will land on Broadway again.

2002 Rocker Billy Joel makes his Broadway debut with the first preview of Movin' Out, his collaboration with choreographer Twyla Tharp. The show will run three years and win Joel a Tony Award for Best Orchestrations.

2004 Hours before a presidential debate between candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry, the Broadway puppet musical Avenue Q stages its own version of the event in Times Square's Duffy Square, with the two contenders played by puppets. The event warns: "Please Note -- Any similarity between puppets and actual Presidential candidates is purely coincidental."

2006 Isabel Bigley, who achieved lasting fame in the annals of Broadway history by playing missionary Sarah Brown in the original production of the musical Guys and Dolls, dies today in Los Angeles at age 80.

2010 Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, his acclaimed play about British miners who became celebrated artists in the 1930s and '40s, makes its American premiere — with its original U.K. cast — at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

More of Today's Birthdays: Wilton Lackaye 1862. Patricia Neway 1919. Deborah Kerr 1921. Donald Swann 1923. Truman Capote 1924. Eric Stoltz 1961. Stark Sands 1978.