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.