PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: OCTOBER 24

By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Sam Maher and Steve Luber
October 24, 2013

1904 Birthday of Moss Hart, Broadway playwright who will write or cowrite The Man Who Came to Dinner, Once in a Lifetime, As Thousands Cheer, You Can't Take it With You and Lady in the Dark, to name just a few. He also directed the original Broadway productions of My Fair Lady and Camelot. He lives to 1961, and is survived by his wife, actress and philanthropist Kitty Carlisle Hart.



1910 Fred Terry stars in the title role of The Scarlet Pimpernel, the non-musical original Broadway adaptation of Baroness Orczy's novel.

1935 Mulatto, a new play by poet Langston Hughes, opens tonight at the Vanderbilt Theatre. This play, which follows the trials of a young interracial couple in the Old South, stars Rose McClendon and runs 373 performances.

1951 The Ethel Barrymore Theatre hosts Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn performing together for the first time on a Broadway stage. They star in Jan De Hartog's comedy The Fourposter, opening tonight. Jose Ferrer stages this show, whose entire action takes place in a bedroom. The show will run for 632 performances, and Tandy and Cronyn will be compared to Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne by Daily News critic John Chapman. A musical version of The Fourposter, I Do! I Do!, would become a hit for Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones.

1963 Fresh from their success with The Fantasticks, songwriters Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt make their Broadway debut with 110 in the Shade based on N. Richard Nash's drama, The Rainmaker. It runs 330 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

1974 Peter Shaffer has a hit on Broadway tonight as his Equus opens at the Plymouth Theatre. The story follows a tragic young man's fascination with horses until it ultimately affects his sex life. The entire plot takes place in a psychiatric ward, where Anthony Hopkins portrays the psychiatrist who tries his hardest to help this disturbed young man, played by Peter Firth. Frances Sternhagen and Marian Seldes also star in this Tony and New York Drama Critics Circle Award- winning play. The show will run 1,209 performances.

1984 A new entertainer is introduced to Broadway tonight. Whoopi Goldberg opens her self-titled, one woman show at the Lyceum Theatre. Mike Nichols directed the 156-performance run. Douglas Watt wrote in the Daily News: "Long may she whoop."

1991 Irishman Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa opens tonight at the Plymouth Theatre. The story follows five unmarried sisters faced with poverty in rural Ireland. Friel has long been a New York favorite, bringing such works to New York as Faith Healer; Philadelphia, Here I Come!; Wonderful Tennessee and Translations. Lughnasa will run 421 performances.

1994 Actor Raul Julia dies today after suffering a stroke. He is 54. Heavily involved in the Public's New York Shakespeare Festival, he starred in The Threepenny Opera and The Cherry Orchard, as well as Broadway's Nine and movies such as "The Addams Family". At his funeral, friend Susan Sarandon said he "asked all the big questions and smoked all the big cigars."

2002 Adolph Green, the legendary Broadway lyricist librettist and screenwriter who, with partner Betty Comden, created On the Town, Bells Are Ringing, On the Twentieth Century, Peter Pan, The Will Rogers Follies, Wonderful Town and "Singin' in the Rain," dies of natural causes at his Manhattan home.

2002 Also today, pop songwriter Billy Joel makes his Broadway debut with Movin' Out, consisting of songs from his pop catalog fashioned by director/choreographer Twyla Tharp into an all-dancing narrative about three buddies' experience in the Vietnam War. It will win Tony Awards for both its primary creators: Best Choreography for Tharp, Best Orchestrations for Joel.

2008 Tony Award nominee Milton Katselas, a respected director, acting teacher, author, painter and founder of the Beverly Hills Playhouse acting school, dies at age 75. Mr. Katselas directed over 60 plays including Butterflies Are Free, the original Off-Broadway production of Edward Albee's The Zoo Story, and the Broadway production of Private Lives that starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

2010 More of Today's Birthdays: Dame Sybil Thorndike 1882. F. Murray Abraham 1939. Kevin Kline 1947. B.D. Wong 1960. Raúl Esparza 1970.