PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: OCTOBER 8

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Sam Maher and Ernio Hernandez
October 8, 2013

1857 Birth of Edward Franklin Albee, who, with B.F. Keith, controlled one of the biggest circuits in vaudeville in the early 20th century. Also, grandfather and namesake of Pulitzer-winning dramatist Edward Albee.



1936 Hamlet opens tonight at the Empire Theatre. John Gielgud in the title role racks up 132 performances, a record at that time for any Shakespeare play on Broadway. Guthrie McClintic directs this production, with sets by Jo Mielziner. Lillian Gish is Ophelia and Judith Anderson is Gertrude.

1938 Debut of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's comedy The Fabulous Invalid, about Broadway egos. Note that the term denoting Broadway's supposed ill-health was current at a time now considered a golden age of American theatre.

1946 Jose Ferrer unveils his landmark production of Cyrano de Bergerac, introducing his Tony-winning performance in the title role (in the first year Tonys were given), which he later recreated on film.

1961 An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May showcases the two wits in an evening of memorable sketches at the John Golden Theatre. It runs 306 performances.

1979 Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller join forces for the burlesque-style Broadway revue, Sugar Babies, which runs 1208 performances.

1980 Steve Tesich opens his new play about the denizens of a Chicago apartment house, Division Street, at the Ambassador Theatre. Although this comedy stars John Lithgow and Christine Lahti, it will run only 21 performances.

1983 James Hayden, co-starring with Al Pacino in a revival of David Mamet's American Buffalo, is found dead amid drug paraphernalia in his Manhattan apartment.

1998 Matthew Bourne delights and scandalizes Broadway with an all-male interpretation of the ballet Swan Lake, in a production that takes the central character out clubbing in London. Bourne later wins the Tony Award for Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical.

1999 At the Moscow Art Theater on Oct. 26, 1899, Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya had its premiere. Today, nearly 100 years later, at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse, the pre-Revolution Russian drama about a retired professor-turned-gentleman-farmer and his niece is celebrated with a production adapted by Vanessa Burnham.

2004 Wally Harper, 62, the respected pianist, arranger, composer and musical director who had a long association with the singer Barbara Cook, dies today after a long illness.

2008 Eileen Herlie, a stage and television actress who was nominated for a Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award in 1960 for Take Me Along, dies at age 90. The Glasgow-born Ms. Herlie was known to soap opera fans as Myrtle Fargate, a role she played for 32 years on "All My Children."

2009 Manhattan Theatre Club's revival of George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's The Royal Family opens on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Rosemary Harris, Jan Maxwell, John Glover and Ana Gasteyer star in the 1927 comedy classic about a family of over-the-top Broadway actors.

2011 A revival of Terence Rattigan's 1963 character study, Man and Boy, opens on Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre. Frank Langella stars as an internationally-known financier whose empire is toppling, with Adam Driver as his estranged son.