Playbill Vault’s Today in Theater History: October 29

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1882 Birth of the French playwright Jean Giraudoux, author of La Folle de Chaillot, Ondine, Intermezzo, Tiger at the Gates, and Host 38.

1891 Birth of comedian Fanny Borach, better known as Fanny Brice, star of the The follies of Ziegfeld, whose shtick is mostly about poking fun at her own looks. His enduring “Baby Snooks” character continued into a radio career in the 1930s. His signature tune was the melancholic “My Man.” His life serves as the basis for the musical funny girl.

1894 Opening night for Reginald De Koventhe popular operetta, Rob Roy.

1932 Mildred Natwick made his Broadway debut in Frank McGrathit is carry the nation at the Biltmore Theater.

1936 Jimmy Durante and Ethel Triton (or is it Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante?) star in the Cole Porter musical Red, hot and blue!, memorable primarily for the PR battle in which the two stars demand the top spot. Management ends up compromising by criss-crossing their names on the Alvin Theater marquee. It has 183 performances (with bob hope settle for a third billing).

1941 Musical by Cole Porter Let’s face it! opens at the Imperial Theater. It’s the first chance Danny Kaye must prove himself as a leading man. Her co-stars of the night include Eve Arden, Viviane Vanceand Nanette Fabray. Jose Ferrer takes over from Danny Kaye during the course of the show, ie 547 performances. A film version was released in 1943.

1946 After a seven-year delay during World War II, Noël Coward’s semi-autobiographical play Laughter present premieres today at the Plymouth Theater on Broadway, featuring frequent Coward player Clifton Webb, a narcissistic actor in the midst of a midlife crisis. The work would become a Broadway favourite, receiving revivals in 1958 (with Coward himself), 1982, 1996, 2010 and 2017.

1952 The audience is held in suspense as a husband hires a man to kill his wife in Dial “M” for murderopening at the Plymouth Theater for a run of 552 performances.

1958 Claudette Colbert and Charles Boyer star in leslie stevensThe Wedding Tour, opening at the Plymouth Theatre. The subject of the play is sex and marriage. Julie Newmar is also in the cast.

1960 Celeste Holm plays in Arthur Laurents Sleeping Beauty-inspired comedy Invitation to a walk, opening at the Music Box Theatre. Eileen Heckart and Jane Fonda are also in the cast. Incidental music is by Stephen Sondheim.

1967 Hair opens at the Astor Library, the new home for Joseph Dadit is New York Shakespeare Festival. This is the first time the company has charged admission to one of its shows, although the ticket price is only $2.50. The show transfers to Broadway in 1968, stopping first at a nightclub on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The Broadway run has 1,742 performances.

1977 After a calamitous test drive, the John Kander and Fred Eb musical The act opens at the Majestic Theatre. Liza Minnell is in the lead role, which earned her the 1978 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical (she had already won in 1956 for Kander and Ebb’s Flora, the red threat, and received an honorary Tony in 1974). The story of a nightclub singer recalling her eventful romantic and professional life will become more like an autobiography as the years pass. The show has 233 performances.

1984 The Old Globe Theater in San Diego, California suffers its second arson attack in six years. This cost the theater $500,000.

2002 Sherie Rene Scott plays the title role in Debbie does Dallas, a musical based on the pornographic film of the same name. After a sold-out engagement at the New York International Fringe Festival in the summer of 2002, the naughty tuner began a regular Off-Broadway tour at the Jane Street Theater. It continues until February 2003.

2003 After many other acting teams competed for the role, Marc Hamil and Polly Bergen opened on Broadway in Richard Alfieri’s comedy for two, Six dance classes in six weeks. The play tells the story of an elderly woman whose life is renewed when she begins taking dance lessons. Unfortunately, the show is discontinued and doesn’t even run as long as the title, closing after just 30 performances.

2009 Finian’s Rainbowthe 1947 musical about an Irishman and his daughter who come to America on a magical quest, opens with a Broadway revival starring Jim Norton, chuck cooper, Kate Baldwin, Christopher Fitzgerald, Cheyenne Jacksonand Terri White. The production at the St. James Theater is the first Broadway revival of the classic Burton Street/Fred Saidy/EY Harbourg show since 1960.

2012 Due to Hurricane Sandy and the suspension of New York City’s transit system, all Broadway shows are canceled tonight. Performances were also canceled on October 28 and will not resume until October 31.

2015 Keira Knightley makes her Broadway debut in Roundabout Theater Company’s Broadway revival Therese Raquin at Studio 54. The cast also includes Gabriel Ebert, Matt Ryan and Judith Light.

More birthdays from today: Akim Tamiroff (1899-1972). Robert Nemiroff (1929–1991). Melba Moore (born in 1945). Ken Billington (born in 1946). Richard Dreyfuss (born in 1947). Rufus Sewell (born in 1967). Gabrielle Union-Wade (born in 1972). Ben Foster (born in 1980).

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Thérèse Raquin, with Keira Knightley and Judith Light, opens on Broadway; Arrivals on the red carpet, encore and after party!


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