Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 28 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: March 28 In 1985, Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues opens on Broadway starring Matthew Broderick.
Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck in Biloxi Blues Jay Thompson

1939 Philip Barry tells The Philadelphia Story at the Shubert Theatre in New York. Katharine Hepburn, Van Heflin, Shirley Booth, and Joseph Cotten star. Robert Edmond Jones designs the sets and lighting, and Robert B. Sinclair stages. It runs a year.

1956 The Comedy of Errors is presented at London's Art Theatre as a comic operetta. Juilan Slade composes the score.

1963 Anne Bancroft stars in the first Broadway production of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, opening at the Martin Beck Theatre. Jerome Robbins directs a cast that also includes Gene Wilder and Barbara Harris.

1964 Martin Sheen makes his Broadway debut in the comedy Never Live Over a Pretzel Factory, directed by Albert Marre. It runs only 9 performances, but Sheen is quickly cast in another Broadway play that begins performances less than two months later: The Subject Was Roses. Director Marre also moves on to bigger things and reunites with Pretzel Factory's incidental music composer Mitch Leigh the following year on the musical Man of La Mancha.

1967 Sherry!, a musical adaptation of the play The Man Who Came to Dinner, opens to dismissive reviews and closes 72 performances later. The score is not recorded until 2004, when librettist James Lipton, now host of Bravo's Actors Studio series, brings together Bernadette Peters, Nathan Lane, Tommy Tune, and Mike Myers for a studio cast album.

1968 Michael Hordern plays a would-be inventor who has a chance to Enter a Free Man at London's St. Martin's Theatre. Tom Stoppard's drama runs just 44 performances. Frith Banbury stages.

1971 A man's family, mistress, and doctor run All Over their relationships with him as he awaits death. John Gielgud stages the Edward Albee drama. Jessica Tandy and Colleen Dewhurst lead the cast. It plays 40 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York.

1985 Two years and a day later, Eugene Jerome returns to the Neil Simon Theatre in Neil Simon's sequel to Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues. Now 1943, six years after the end of Memoirs, Eugene is on his way to boot camp during World War II. Matthew Broderick once again dons the duds of the character, then hands off the role to Jonathan Silverman, who stars in the third part of the trilogy, Broadway Bound.

1994 Eugene Ionesco, the playwright of Rhinoceros, The Bald Soprano, Exit the King, and The Chairs, dies at age 84. Known as the father of Absurd Theatre, he said, "It's not a certain society that seems ridiculous to me, it's mankind."

1997 Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Viola Davis, Roger Robinson, and Michele Stay star in August Wilson's Seven Guitars as it opens at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre. All four performers will go on to receive Tony Award nominations for their performances in this entry from Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle about an aspiring blues musician that returns home for the woman he loves, an ailing old man hoping for an heir to carry on his name, and three women coping with betrayal and disappointment.

2004 Lisa Kron, the actor-playwright known for her solo shows, includes other actors and characters in her latest work, Well, which opens at New York's Public Theater. Two years later, the production transfers to Broadway for a 52-performance run.

2004 Peter Ustinov, the portly, bearded Renaissance Man of British Theatre (and an Oscar-winner in films) dies at age 82. His Broadway plays (as both author and performer) include Romanoff and Juliet, Who's Who in Hell, and Beethoven's Tenth, the last of which had him playing the ghost of Ludwig von Beethoven.

2010 June Havoc, a show-business legend whose hard-knocks childhood as a stage performer was depicted in the classic musical Gypsy, dies at age 96. Following an early vaudeville career as "Baby June" and later "Dainty June," Havoc appeared in a number of Broadway shows (including Pal Joey, Mexican Hayride, and Affairs of State) and films (including My Sister Eileen and Gentleman's Agreement), and wrote two autobiographies.

2012 Now. Here. This., a new work from the creators and cast of the cult-hit Broadway musical [title of show], opens in its world premiere at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre. The highly personal revue, which includes autobiographical elements from the players, is a collaboration by Hunter Bell, Michael Berresse, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen, and Larry Pressgrove.

2013 Richard Griffiths, the Tony- and Olivier Award-winning British character actor whose career bloomed late in life with numerous successes on the London and Broadway stages dies at age 65. Among his most memorable performances were the roles of Uncle Monty in Withnail and I, Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter movie series, and Hector in The History Boys.

Today's Birthdays: Paul Whiteman (1890-1967). Flora Robson (1902-1984). Irving Paul Lazar (1907-1993). Richard Stilgoe (b. 1943). Richard Eyre (b. 1943). Ken Howard (1944-2016). Dianne Wiest (b. 1948). Stuart Zagnit (b. 1952). Reba McEntire (b. 1955). Julia Stiles (b. 1981). Rodney Hicks (b. 1974).  

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