1892 Birthday of playwright Elmer Rice, author of many dramas including Street Scene, Counsellor-at-Law, Dream Girl, The Grand Tour, and the libretto to Kurt Weill's musical based on Street Scene. He is also instrumental in the development of other playwrights' careers as co-producer of The Playwrights' Company.
1926 Anita Loos and her husband, John Emerson, adapt her novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, to the stage. June Walker stars in the comedy about a girl from Little Rock who collects wealthy men and costly gifts. It runs at the Times Square Theatre and then opens in London in 1928. In 1949, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes returns to Broadway as a musical, starring Carol Channing.
1961 Ossie Davis' new comedy, Purlie Victorious, opens at the Cort Theatre. Davis himself stars in the production, which is 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 is directed by Howard Da Silva.
1961 Actor Gregory Jbara is born in Wayne, Michigan. His Broadway appearances include the original Broadway productions of Victor/Victoria and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and he wins a Tony Award for his performance in Billy Elliot: The Musical.
1977 'Tis the season to be Bram Stoker, as one of two adaptations of his novel Dracula opens in New York. The Passion of Dracula by Bob Hall and David Richmond haunts Off-Broadway's Cherry Lane Theatre, with Christopher Bernau vamping it up as the notorious Count. On October 20, Frank Langella takes on the role in a 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 October 5, 1947. Burstyn was also the president of Actors' 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, closes out the production.
2005 Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, and Brian Murray star as a family dealing with the impending death of their matriarch, played by Judith Light, in MCC Theater’s Colder Than Here. Soho Theatre Company Artistic Director Abigail Morris stages the new Laura Wade play, which opens at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
2010 The Broadway premiere of Brief Encounter, Kneehigh Theatre's 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 hybrid.
2011 The NYC premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s Lidless opens at WalkerSpace. The play follows a female interrogator who attempts to put her dark past at Guantanamo Bay behind her. Tea Alagić directs with a cast including Danielle Skraastad, Laith Nakli, Thom Rivera, Maha Chehlaoui, and Emma Galvin.
2014 A revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy You Can't Take It With You opens on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre. The cast includes James Earl Jones, Elizabeth Ashley, Julie Halston, Kristine Nielsen, Mark Linn-Baker, and Annaleigh Ashford, who wins a Tony Award for her performance as Essie.
2015 A two-hander musical Daddy Long Legs, by Tony-nominated composer-lyricist Paul Gordon and Tony-winning librettist-director John Caird, opens at the Davenport Theatre. Based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster, the production stars Megan McGinnis and Paul Alexander Nolan.
2016 Judith Light stars in the world premiere of Neil LaBute's solo play All The Ways To Say I Love You, opening Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Light plays a high school English teacher and guidance counselor in a long-time, loving marriage, who finds herself looking back at pivotal choices and moments in her life.
2019 Katsura Sunshine’s Rakugo, in which Canadian performer and recognized Rakugo master Katsura Sunshine brings the 400-year-old Japanese traditional art of comic storytelling to the New York stage, opens Off-Broadway at New World Stages.
More birthdays: Pedro De Cordoba (1881–1950), William Windom (1923–2012), Marilyn Clark (b. 1929), Joel Higgins (b. 1943), Kathleen Marshall (b. 1962), Janeane Garofalo (b. 1964)
Watch highlights from the 2010 Broadway production of Brief Encounter: