PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: OCTOBER 15

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and Robert Viagas, Sam Maher and Steve Luber
15 Oct 2014

1881 Birth of Pelham Grenville Wodehouse — P.G. Wodehouse to theatre lovers — in England. He will go on to write the "Jeeves" stories as well as many Broadway musicals including Rosalie and The Three Musketeers (lyrics), Anything Goes and Oh, Kay! (librettos), Very Good Eddie and Sally (additional lyrics), and wrote the words to the song "Bill" heard in Show Boat. He will die in 1975.

1928 Eva Le Gallienne directs and co-stars with Alla Nazimova in a Broadway production of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard that runs 63 performances.

1930 A new musical revue opens tonight on Broadway: Three's A Crowd, whose book is by Howard Dietz and much of its music is from Arthur Schwartz. In the cast are Libby Holman, Fred Allen, Clifton Webb, Tamara Geva and Fred MacMurray. Some memorable songs are introduced tonight. They include "Body and Soul" and "Something to Remember You By." This revue will run 272 performances.

1938 Raymond Massey plays the 16th president in Robert E. Sherwood's Abe Lincoln in Illinois, which goes on to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

1952 Shirley Booth plays a lonely American looking for love in Venice in Arthur Laurents' The Time of the Cuckoo. The show will run for 263 performances at the Empire Theatre. David Lean's 1955 screen version, "Summertime," will star Katharine Hepburn. It is also reincarnated in the form of Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim's 1965 musical Do I Hear a Waltz?.

1953 John Forsythe plays an American captain learning how to live with the natives on occupied Okinawa in John Patrick's drama The Teahouse of the August Moon, which wins both the Tony Award for Best Play and Pulitzer Prize for drama.

1969 Broadway audiences get the effects of the post-war 60's today as many performances, both on Broadway and off, are canceled due to Vietnam Moratorium Day. Producer Hal Prince cancels the performance of Fiddler on the Roof that was scheduled for this evening. The cast will be paid, though. Although its shows are being performed, the proceeds from Hair go to various charities of the cast's choice. Woody Allen, the star of Play It Again, Sam, doesn't go on, although producer David Merrick says it is a breach of contract. Many off-Broadway performances are canceled, and even national tours are affected. Joel Grey, performing in Dallas in Cabaret, threatens to take out a newspaper ad explaining his absence. He misses tonight's performance.

1987 Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia makes his Broadway debut today with the concert show Jerry Garcia Acoustic and Electric at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

2003 NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg joins Manhattan Theatre Club artistic director Lynne Meadow and executive producer Barry Grove in firing a confetti cannon on West 47th Street to rededicate the refurbished Biltmore Theatre. The theatre that once housed Hair and Barefoot in the Park has been dark since 1987 and came close to being demolished. Instead, backed by a $27 million capital campaign, and an accompanying multi-use tower that made it all financially feasible, the 1925-vintage playhouse relights as MTC's new Broadway flagship.

2003 Also today, 89-year-old playwright William Gibson (The Miracle Worker, Two for the Seesaw) has a late-career hit with Golda's Balcony, a drama about Israeli prime minister Golda Meir. Gibson and star Tovah Feldshuh will earn Tony nominations for their work.

2008 Edie Adams, a multi-talented actress who put her shapely figure, comic instincts, and clear, Juilliard-trained singing voice to good use by creating the roles of Eileen Sherwood in Wonderful Town and Daisy Mae in Li'l Abner, dies at age 81.

2009 Rebuilt from (below) the ground up, the 1918 vintage Henry Miller’s Theatre reopens with Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Bye Bye Birdie. Nolan Gerard Funk, Gina Gershon, Jayne Houdyshell, Bill Irwin, John Stamos and Allie Trimm star in the first Broadway revival of the 1960 musical about a rock singer whose manager plans one last publicity stunt before he’s drafted into the army.

More of Today's Birthdays: Hassard Short 1887. Jane Darwell 1879. Ina Claire 1893. Jan Miner 1917. Robert E. Lee 1918. José Quintero 1924. Linda Lavin 1937. Gavin Lee 1971.