As the year comes to an end, we look back at the people we have lost in 2018—the men and women who helped create and inspire theatre today.
(In alphabetical order)
The French singer and prolific songwriter and over 1,000 songs to his name, his melodies being sung by the likes of Edith Piaf, Bing Crosby, Shirley Bassey, and Liza Minnelli, with whom he often performed. On Broadway, Mr. Aznavour offered five concert engagements. He died October 1, 2018 at the age of 84.
The actor landed his first Broadway role in 1972 when he was cast by Sir Peter Hall in Via Galactica, the infamous multi-million dollar sci-fi musical—equal parts futuristic spectacle and dramatic debacle—that shuttered after only seven performances. A year later, Tony-winning director Harold Prince cast him to play the title role in a highly-revised version of Leonard Bernstein’s 1956 operetta Candide, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in December 1973. Baker died August 13, 2018 at the age of 79.
Barton co-founded Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 with Sir Peter Hall and continued to work with the company for the remainder of his life. The director was renowned for his ability to interpret the words of the Bard with passion and clarity. Among his most memorable Shakespeare productions were the 1969 Twelfth Night with Judi Dench as Viola and Donald Sinden as Malvolio, Love’s Labour’s Lost in 1978 with Michael Pennington as Berowne and Jane Lapotaire as Rosaline, and The Merchant of Venice—first with Patrick Stewart as Shylock at The Other Place in 1978, and then David Suchet in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1981. He died January 18, 2018 at the age of 89.
His greatest roles included originating the Chevalieresque candelabra Lumiere, who beckoned Belle to "Be Our Guest" in Beauty and the Beast, opening at the Palace Theatre in 1994. Beach earned his first Tony Award nomination for his performance. His biggest triumph was as director Roger De Bris in Mel Brooks' 2001 hit The Producers—a role Beach imbued with the dedication of an old-fashioned, heart-on-his-sleeve show queen who finally got his moment in the spotlight with "Springtime for Hitler"—which he also transferred to the big screen. Beach passed July 17, 2018 at age 70.
Mr. Beckett was known to many in the U.K. for his work on the BBC comedy W1A as Barney Lumsden—a role he first originated on Twenty Twelve. After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, he appeared onstage in such productions as Much Ado About Nothing in the West End, the Young Vic’s The Changeling, and Edward II at the National Theatre. His film credits include Survivor, Youth, and the new Mary Queen of Scots, directed by Josie Rourke. He died April 10, 2018 at age 35.
The character actor was perhaps most known for his work on screen, including performances in Working Girl, Three Men and a Baby, and Law & Order, but Mr. Bosco also boasted numerous Broadway credits, including a Tony-winning turn in Lend Me a Tenor, as well as roles in Heartbreak House, An Inspector Calls, The Heiress, Twelfth Night, Copenhagen, and Twelve Angry Men. He died December 3, 2018 at age 88.
Mr. Bragg, founder of the National Theatre of the Deaf alongside Edna Simon Levin and David Hays, began his career in theatre education before becoming a student again himself—this time, of mime, with Marcel Marceau. He performed with NTD for a decade, including appearances on Broadway in the repertory stagings of Tyger! Tyger! and other burnings; The Critic; and On the Harmfulness of Tobacco. As a co-founder of the theatre, he was the recipient of a Special Tony Award in 1977. Bragg died October 29, 2018 at age 90.
Mr. Campanella made his Broadway debut in 1962 in the short-lived The Captains and the Kings, which played seven performances at the Playhouse Theatre. His role as Daniel Stein in Garson Kanin's A Gift of Time earned him a 1962 Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. His final Broadway appearance was opposite Judy Holliday in the 1963 musical Hot Spot, which played 43 performances at the Majestic Theatre. The actor, however, made his strongest impression in a TV career that spanned over 40 years with scores of appearances. He received both a Primetime Emmy nomination (in 1968 for Mannix) and a Daytime Emmy nomination (in 1989 for Days of Our Lives).
The opera luminary celebrated a 17-year tenure with Pittsburgh Opera, having previously served as artistic director and general director at San Diego Opera. He made his debut with Teatro Argentino de La Plata’s 1953 production of Aida and went on to work at the esteemed Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He directed soprano Beverly Sills in New York City Opera’s 1966 production of Giulio Cesare, which prompted a multi-year collaboration between the two, which included productions of Manon, Donizetti’s “Tudor Trilogy” of Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux, and Thaïs. He died September 8, 2018 at the age of 87.
Colby was recently seen on Broadway as Stan in Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize–winning Sweat, the role he originated in the play’s critically acclaimed debut Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. Previously, he was seen in the 1992 Broadway production of Hamlet. The actor performed extensively Off-Broadway at The Public Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Primary Stages, Westside Theatre, MCC, and Symphony Space. He passed February 23, 218 at the age of 56.
Cole made her Broadway debut in 1966 in a revival of The School for Scandal. The actor worked steadily on Broadway for nearly a decade, also appearing in Right You Are If You Think You Are, We Comrades Three, You Can't Take It with You, War and Peace, The Merchant of Venice, and, in 1974, the original satire The National Health. The latter, which ran a little over a month, marked Cole's final Broadway appearance. It was the small screen, however, where Cole would garner the most attention, winning an Emmy for her work in Roots and garnering a second nomination in 1979 for her performance as Maggie Rogers in Backstairs at the White House. She died January 19, 2018 at age 75.
Mr. Craver, a theatrical literary agent, earned a Tony Award for Excellence in the Theatre in 2013. His clients included playwrights, composers, lyricists, and directors. Among the roster were three Pulitzer Prize winners: Jonathan Larson (Rent), David Auburn (Proof), and Robert Schenkkan (All The Way). But before his four-decade career as an agent, Mr. Craver started in the theatre industry working for producer Saint Subber, serving as company manager for several Mike Nichols-helmed productions, including the late Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, and Plaza Suite. He died November 8, 2018 at the age of 87.
Robert M. Cooper
Mr. Cooper directed and produced the 1976 Tony-nominated musical Bubbling Brown Sugar, a Harlem nightclub-set musical revue written by Loften Mitchell. His additional theatre credits included directing and co-producing Off-Broadway’s On Toby Time. He died July 14, 2018 at age 86.
As a press agent, Mr. Debuskey represented more than 500 productions over the course of his career. Though he helped bring myriad Broadway productions financial success, he was renowned for his work as a consultant and moral compass in the nonprofit circuit, including with Circle in the Square, Lincoln Center Theatre, and, most famously, with Joseph Papp as the New York Shakespeare Festival developed into the Public Theater. His wife, costume designer Pearl Somner Debuskey, died in January (see below). He died September 25 at age 95.
Pearl Somner Debuskey
The costume designer first entered the realm of theatre as an actor, appearing in a national touring production of Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo with Maureen Stapleton and Eli Wallach. She was involved as an actor in the emerging Off-Broadway movement, but then switched to her ultimate design career for Broadway, Off-Broadway, TV, movies, and commercials. Best remembered among her films was Love Story. Among her Broadway design credits are Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Shenandoah, 84 Charing Cross Road, and Ulysses in Nighttown. Off-Broadway, she costumed the musical I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road for The Public Theater. She passed January 5, 2018, at age 94.
A year after his 1956 bBroadway bow in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Dillman co-starred in the film In Love and War, earning a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. He was also nominated for an Emmy in 1963 for the episode “The Voice of Charlie Pont” from the Fred Astaire-hosted Alcoa Premiere. His additional screen credits include Compulsion, The Way We Were, The Enforcer, and the 1973 film adaptation of The Iceman Cometh. He returned only once to Broadway, in 1962’s The Fun Couple. He died January 16, 2018, at age 87.
Mr. Epstein was a frequent interpreter of the work of playwright Samuel Beckett, becoming the first performer to take on the loquacious role of Lucky in Waiting for Godot on Broadway. He would go on to play the show’s Estragon at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts—a theatre that served as a frequent home for the artist. Mr. Epstein was also revered for his performances in various incarnations of Beckett’s Endgame, including as Clov in the American premiere in 1958. He played the other two male roles in subsequent productions—most recently, Nagg in the Brooklyn Academy of Music production opposite Elaine Stritch and John Turturro. He died December 10, 2018, at age 93.
The Canadian-American stage and screen veteran appeared in such Broadway shows as The First Gentleman, The Country Wife, The Entertainer, and There’s One in Every Marriage before becoming known to many as William Mulder, Agent Mulder’s father on The X-Files. He passed September 10, 2018, at age 90.
Before her move to Hollywood, she made a dozen Broadway appearances, including original productions of lesser-known musicals by a panoply of Golden Age songwriters including Cole Porter (Let’s Face It! opposite Danny Kaye), Rodgers & Hart (By Jupiter opposite Ray Bolger), Harold Arlen & Yip Harburg (Bloomer Girl, replacing Celeste Holm), and Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner (Love Life). Her performance in Love Life earned her the 1949 Tony Award as Best Actress in a Musical—the second time that award was given. She was nominated for that same award in 1963 for her work in Mr. President. She died February 22, 2018, at age 97.
María Irene Fornés
Ms. Fornés, born in Cuba before immigrating to New York at the age of 15, was at the forefront of the Off-Off-Broadway experimental theatre movement of the 1960s. She was known to many as “Mother Avant-Garde” and wrote and directed over 40 plays throughout her career, including Promenade, which is set to return to the New York stage as part of City Center’s Encores! Off-Center series. In 1990, her play And What of the Night? was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She received nine Obie Awards over the course of her career, including a Sustained Achievement Award. She died October 30, 2018 at age 88.
Mr. Frankel’s 20-year producing partnership with Jeffrey Richards led to nine Tony-winning productions: All the Way, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, La Cage aux Folles, Hair, August: Osage County, Spring Awakening, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Death of a Salesman. In total, he helped bring over 50 new productions to the Broadway stage over two decades, beginning with 1997’s Jekyll & Hyde. Frankel passed November 17, 2018, at the age of 88.
Mr. Gasman earned Tony nominations for both the book and score (for which he wrote the lyrics) for 1997’s The Life, an unlikely musical exploring the lives of sex workers in 1980s Times Square. His additional credits included a Keith Haring bio-musical Radiant Baby, which premiere Off-Broadway in 1993, as wells as the 1985 Off-Broadway revue What’s a Nice Country Like You Doing in a State Like This? alongside composer Cary Hoffman. He died October 6, 2018, at the age of 76.
With Barry Laine and Jerry Tobin, Mr. Glines co-founded The Glines, a non-profit theatre company dedicated to the development of works exploring the gay experience, in 1976. Mr. Glines chose to use his own moniker for the company to echo his insistence that everyone who took part use their real names. He told Playbill in a 1985 interview, “We wanted something that was not politically oriented…nine years ago, playwrights and actors didn’t use their own names; a gay play meant something pornographic. I thought by using my own name, it would be a forerunner—it would force others to do the same.” He won a Tony and Drama Desk as the producer of the original Torch Song Triology and during his Tony acceptance speech became the first person to recognize a same-sex partner on a major awards show. He died August 8, 2018 at age 85.
The screenwriter, playwright, and novelist won Oscars for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men, though he was revered to many as the author of The Princess Bride. His Broadway tome, The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway, offers an all-access account of the 1967–1968 Broadway season, replete with insights on box-office figures, business model nuances, and the politics of theatre real-estate. He also wrote for the stage, penning the 1961 play Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole, the book and score for A Family Affair, and the stage adaptation of Misery (having already adapted Stephen King’s novel for the screen). He died November 16, 2018 at the age of 87.
With teenaged friends, Lorraine was a member of the Hot Club of Newark, a society of jazz fans. She made her first pilgrimage to the Village Vanguard with them in 1940 for a Sunday matinée. Shortly thereafter, she met Alfred Lion at Jimmy Ryan’s, a jazz club on 52nd Street. Lion’s obsession with jazz matched Lorraine’s. A recent émigré from Germany, he had started his own jazz record label, Blue Note. Lorraine knew Blue Note’s records and loved them. In a very short time she and Lion were married and working side-by-side. Together they would build Blue Note into the most influential jazz record label of its time. She passed June 9, 2018 at the age of 95.
The English actor was seen on Broadway and American stages a number of times throughout his career, including the John Osborne's seminal Look Back in Anger in 1957. Haigh originated the role of Jimmy Porter in the show's premiere production at the Royal Court in 1956 and subsequent Broadway transfer. His other Broadway credits included the title role in Albert Camus’ Caligula (1960), Neil Simon’s California Suite (1977), and the role of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Tennessee Williams’ Clothes for a Summer Hotel (1980). Haigh died February 4, 2018 at the age of 86.
Ms. Hall received Drama Desk Awards for both her music and lyrics to the 1978 Broadway hit The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Her additional theatrical ventures included the musical’s short-lived sequel, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, as well as Good Sports, Paper Moon, Are We There Yet?, and Off-Broadway’s To Whom It May Concern. She died October 11, 2018 at the age of 82.
Whether comedic or dramatic, bold or demure, the characters Harris played were imbued with a sense of palpable discovery and spontaneous wonder. Her unshakable commitment to experiencing the world around her in real-time was coupled with a powerhouse voice that could seemingly do anything. Critic Walter Kerr famously called her "the square root of noisy sex," a description that prompted her reply: "My goodness, mathematicians are going to be furious!" With five Broadway credits to her name, she won a Tony Award in 1967 for The Apple Tree. She died August 21, 2018 at the age of 83.
Hunter memorably played Joe Hardy in the 1958 film adaptation of Damn Yankees. In 1964, Mr. Hunter made his sole Broadway appearance in a short-lived revival of Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, starring as Christopher Flanders opposite Tallulah Bankhead's Mrs. Goforth. The production used a script somewhat revised by Williams following the work's Broadway premiere just a year earlier. Mr. Hunter continued to appear in films through the 1980s, including two memorable screen performances opposite drag legend Divine. Polyester, directed by John Waters, was released in 1981. The two next co-starred in 1985's Lust in the Dust, a western comedy film that also featured Lainie Kazan. As substitute teacher Mr. Stuart in 1982's Grease 2, Mr. Hunter once again sang on screen, leading the song "Reproduction." He died July 8, 2018 at the age of 86.
She made her Broadway debut in 1949 in the original cast of Lost in the Stars, and went on to originate roles in The Long Dream, Nobody Loves an Albatross, The Amen Corner, The Skin of Our Teeth, and in Tennessee Williams’ penultimate Broadway play, Vieux Carré. Though she had only two lines in the Williams play, Jeanette was influential in the creation of her character, Nursie, an African-American maid. Williams, feeling he would be unable to write authentically for a black character, sought Jeanette’s input throughout the rehearsal process. Jeannette was also a playwright and founded the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players in Harlem. She died April 4, 2018 at the age of 103.
The actor made his Broadway debut with Chicago when the sold-out City Center Encores! staging of Kander and Ebb’s 1975 musical transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre for a 20th anniversary revival in October 1996. He was the last remaining member of the original 1996 opening night cast to still be part of the long-running hit. He passed June 29, 2018 at the age of 57.
She made her Broadway debut choreographing the musical comedy The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd in 1965 and Pickwick later that year. In 1967, she choreographed How Now, Dow Jones for Broadway, as well. But it was in 1981 with the production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats that Lynne broke through as one of the definitive choreographers of the musical theatre canon. Helping humans inhabit the lives of cats based on T.S. Eliot poetry, Lynne earned her first Tony nomination. Her dance introduced a new movement vocabulary and is considered a milestone achievement. She earned the 1981 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement of the Year in Musicals for Cats in London. She went on to choreograph The Phantom of the Opera (earning a second Tony nomination), Aspects of Love, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for Broadway. She died July 1, 2018 at the age of 92.
Mr. MacDermot helped create the Tony-winning musical Hair alongside James Rado and Gerome Ragni. The “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” earned him a Grammy Award for its cast album. He would go on to write the music to the Tony-winning musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, for which he earned a Drama Desk Award. He also lent his considerable musical talent to a number of other musicals, including Isabel's a Jezebel, Dude, and The Human Comedy. He was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2009. He died December 17, 2018 at the age of 89.
He made his Broadway debut in 1986 with Lincoln Center Theater’s The House of Blue Leaves, earning a Tony Award for his performance as Artie Shaughnessy. Mr. Mahoney returned to the Broadway stage in 2007 in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Prelude to a Kiss. The actor was perhaps known to most for his performance as Martin Crane on NBC’s long-running Frasier, playing father to Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce. He was nominated for Emmy Awards in 1999 and 2003 for his work on the comedy. His additional screen credits include Moonstruck, Say Anything…, Flipped, and Barton Fink. He died February 4, 2018 at age 77.
The famed director first directed on Broadway with 1967’s After the Rain, following an already established career working with myriad stage luminaries in the U.K., including Noël Coward. The two collaborated on the triple bill Suite in Three Keys the year prior to Matalon’s Broadway debut; a year after Coward’s death in 1973, Mr. Matalon directed two of the collection’s three titles on Broadway as Noël Coward in Two Keys. He won a Tony Award for his direction of Morning’s at Seven and earned a nomination for The Tap Dance Kid. He died August 15, 2018 at the age of 88.
As a librettist, Mr. Masteroff brought historical resonance to two Harold Prince-directed shows: Cabaret and She Loves Me. He had one more significant Broadway credit: penning the book to the 1971 short-lived Kander and Ebb musical 70 Girls 70. Two years prior, he was brought in to doctor Jerry Herman's Dear World. He passed September 28, 2018 at age 98.
Her myriad accolades include five Tony nominations (with two in the same season): Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2005), Coram Boy (2007), Lend Me a Tenor (2010), The Royal Family (2010), and Follies (2012). With the most recent, Ms. Maxwell became the fourth performer in Tony Awards history to be nominated in all four possible acting categories. She won Drama Desks for both Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Royal Family. Two days after her Follies Tony nomination was announced, she reprised her performance as Phyllis Rogers Stone in Los Angeles when the production played Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre. She died February 11, 2018 at the age of 61.
After making her Broadway debut in Big River, Ms. Mazzie came to stardom (and earned her first Tony nomination) as Clara in the 1994 musical Passion. She received subsequent nominations for her performances in Ragtime and Kiss Me, Kate. She shared the stage with husband Jason Danieley in Next to Normal on Broadway, and also frequently performed alongside him on the cabaret circuit. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015—during a run in Zorba! at New York City Center—but continued to perform, including in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of The King and I. She was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2017. Mazzie died September 13, 2018 at the age of 57.
Perhaps his greatest contribution to the theatre community was Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There, a project that McKay began filming interviews for in 1998 released in 2003. The film features discussions with several Broadway legends, including Barbara Cook, Carol Burnett, Bea Arthur, Celeste Holm, Angela Lansbury, Shirley MacLaine, and Jerry Orbach. Their memories and anecdotes form a first-person picture of the so-called "Golden Age" of Broadway, from the 1920s to 1959.
McKayle appeared in such productions as Bless You All, House of Flowers, and Cooper and Brass before his first associate choreographer credit on Broadway: the 1959 Gwen Verdon musical Redhead. He subsequently choreographed the Broadway productions of Golden Boy, A Time for Singing, and I'm Solomon. In fact, it was his work for the 1964 musical Golden Boy, based on the Clifford Odets play, that earned McKayle his first Tony nomination for Best Choreography. In 1973 McKayle directed and choreographed Raisin, the musical version of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. McKayle earned Tony nominations for both his direction and choreography. He earned two more Tony nominations in his lifetime. He died April 6, 2018 at the age of 87.
Allyn Ann McLerie
Ms. McLerie made her Broadway debut at the age of 16 in the dancing ensemble of 1943's One Touch of Venus. She then appeared in the original production of On the Town, marrying co-star and composer-lyricist Adolph Green the following year (they divorced in 1953). She next starred in Frank Loesser and George Abbott's Where's Charley? opposite Ray Bolger. Her performance as Amy Spettigue (who sings the soprano staple "The Woman In His Room") earned Ms. McLerie a 1949 Theatre World Award.
Mr. Mitchell broke ground as New York City Ballet’s first African-American principal dancer before founding the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The company made its debut in 1971 as the first permanent black ballet company in America. Since its founding, DTH has grown to become a multi-cultural dance institution with more than 300 students. He died September 19, 2018 at the age of 84.
Although she had made her Broadway debut in 1958 in La Plume de Ma Tante and appeared in the 1964 musical revue Folies Bergère, the Paris-born actor's breakthrough role was playing producer Liliane La Fleur in Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit's Nine, which was directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune and won the 1982 Tony Award for Best Musical. Montevecchi, who stopped the show with the appropriately titled “Folies Bergeres,” was also honored with the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical—a category that included two of her Nine co-stars, Karen Akers and the late Anita Morris. She was later nominated in 1990 for her work in Grand Hotel. She passed June 29, 2018 at the age of 85.
During World War II, she toured with the USO entertaining American troops in the field. It was on one of these tours that she met and began to sing for composer Cole Porter. When it came time to cast his 1948 musical about a feuding divorced husband-and-wife acting team (built around Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew), Porter insisted that Morison was the one he wanted for the female lead, Lilli Vanessi. She got the part over the objections of his producer and partners, who wanted a more recognizable Broadway name. Kiss Me, Kate was described by critic Martin Gottfried as “one of the greatest of all musical theatre scores.” It also was the first show to win the Tony Award as Best Musical. Morison died May 20, 2018, at the age of 103.
Morris worked on a number of Broadway musicals throughout his long career, mostly as a composer of dance arrangements and incidental music. Some of his credits include Mack & Mabel with Bernadette Peters (1974), as well as Wildcat starring Lucille Ball (1960), Hot Spot with Judy Holliday (1963), Baker Street (1965), and Hamlet (1975). He died January 25, 2018 at the age of 91.
Playwright Murphy's myriad plays included On the Outside, A Whistle in the Dark, Conversations on a Homecoming, Bailegangaire, Famine, The Morning After Optimism, The Sanctuary Lamp, A Crucial Week in the life of a Grocer’s Assistant, The Wake, The Patriot Game, The Blue Macushla, Epitaph Under Ether, and The Gigli Concert. He died May 15, 2018 at the age of 83.
The actor and director received a Tony Award nomination as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, a Drama Desk nomination for his performance as Charlie Now in 1978's Da, and was part of the Drama Desk-winning ensemble in 1983's Noises Off, playing the temperamental Nothing On director Lloyd Dallas. He was Tony-nominated and won a Drama Desk Award for his performance as Benjamin Hubbard in the 1997 revival of The Little Foxes starring Stockard Channing, and received his third Tony nomination playing Deputy-Governor Danforth in the 2002 revival of The Crucible. Inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2004, he died August 20, 2018 at the age of 80.
Ms. Napolin’s play Yentl, about a young Jewish woman who disguises herself as a man in order to study the Talmud, premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1974 before bowing at Broadway’s Eugene O’Neil Theatre the following year, running for over 200 performances. The production earned Tovah Feldshuh a Tony nomination for her performance in the title role. Yentl was adapted for the screen and starred Barbra Streisand in the title role. The playwright died May 13, 2018 at the age of 83.
Mr. Ntshona originated the title role in Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, playing a man who takes on the identity of a dead man in order to find work. In 1974’s The Island, he portrayed an inmate of Robben Island, the infamous South African prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. He won a Tony Award for his work in the repertory plays. The plays became touchstones of Mr. Ntshona and John Kani’s theatrical careers—a relationship they forged while acting together in high school. They spent more than three decades touring Sizwe Banzi Is Dead and The Island across the world, including productions on Broadway and the West End. He died August 2, 2018 at the age of 76.
It was Nype's duet with Merman on “You're Just in Love” that stopped performances of the 1950 Irving Berlin hit Call Me Madam nightly. For his performance, Nype received a Theatre World Award as well as his first Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Nype followed that Tony-winning turn with a role in the comedy Wake Up, Darling, which played five performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 1956, and a 1957 revival of Carousel that cast him as Enoch Snow. He won a second Tony in 1959 for Goldilocks. He died May 27, 2018 at age 98.
The ballet star made her Broadway debut with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1934, but it was her breakout as the original Ivy Smith in 1944’s On The Townthat is Osato’s theatrical claim to fame. She did win a Donaldson Award for best female dancer for her work in Agnes de Mille’s One Touch of Venus. A longtime dacer for Ballet Theater (now American Ballet Theater), she wpublished her moemoir Distant Dances in 1980. She died December 26, 2018 at age 99.
After a series of short, one-act plays about Italian-Amiercan life, Pintauro's first full-length play Snow Orchid premiered in 1982 at New York City's Circle Rep starring Olympia Dukakis, Peter Boyle, and Robert LuPone. The play, a family drama set in Brooklyn during the ’60s, was revived in London at the Gate Theatre in 1993 starring a young Jude Law and Paola di Ognisotti, and subsequently at Off-Broadway’s Lion Theatre in 2015 starring Tony nominee Robert Cuccioli and Angelina Fiordellisi. Pintauro’s 1992 play Men’s Lives, an adaptation of Peter Matthiessen’s book about the struggles of Long Island’s baymen, inaugurated the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, where the playwright lived. He died May 29, 2018 at the age of 87.
The Facts of Life star's early Broadway credits included Three Wishes for Jamie (1952), The Golden Apple (1954), The Littlest Revue (1956), Li’l Abner (1956), and The Beauty Part (1962). She received Tony nominations for her next two Broadway outings: Mrs. Bardell in the 1965 musical Pickwick and Gertrude, Beryl, and Filigree Bones in Israel Horovitz’s 1968 Morning, Noon and Night. Her final Main Stem credits were Murray Schisgal’s short-lived The Chinese and Dr. Fish in 1970 and David Rabe’s Boom Boom Room in 1973. She died August 5, 2018 at the age of 92.
The actor appeared on Broadway seven times before earning a Tony Award for his performance in the 2009 revival of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, his final Broadway credit. He had been previously nominated for his work in another August Wilson work: Seven Guitars. The actor additionally appeared in over 30 Off-Broadway plays, and took on the role of Becker in the National Theatre staging of Wilson’s Jitney. He passed September 26, 2018 at the age of 78.
Though he became a household name after starring roles on screen in Deliverance and Smokey and the Bandit, the Hollywood star appeared on Broadway early in his career, in 1961’s short-lived Look, We’ve Come Through by Harold Wheeler. His illustrious film career included two musicals: At Long Last Love and the movie adaptation of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, in which Reynolds appeared opposite Dolly Parton. He died September 6, 2018 at the age of 82.
The director, choreographer, and perofrmer had a longstanding relationship with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, as well as a number of theatres in and around the Chicago area. Her long list of directing credits included a new production of Brigadoon at The Goodman Theatre, Shrek The Musical at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Ragtime at the Drury Lane, as well as the world premiere of October Sky at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. She appeared on tour in 1996’s Show Boat and as the dance captain for the Mamma Mia! national tour. She died May 28, 2018 at the age of 49.
Prior to an extensive film career, Ms. Sawyer made her Broadway debut in 1948’s Hilarities. She went on to understudy Shirley Booth in The Time of the Cuckoo in 1952 before her breakout performance in 1957’s A Hole in the Head. Frank Sinatra subsequently produced and starred in a film adaptation, bringing Sawyer on to reprise her role, marking her motion picture debut. She died January 21, 2018 at the age of 105.
Scheerer directed The Danny Kaye Show (1963–1964), for which he won an Emmy Award, the Fame series (1982–1984), The American Film Institute Salute to Bette Davis, and episodes of Live from Lincoln Center; he also directed Barbra Streisand in A Happening in Central Park and Shirley MacLaine in If They Could See Me Now. Scheerer, who was born in Santa Barbara, started his career as a young dancer in Hollywood films. He made his Broadway debut in Lend an Ear in 1948, alongside Carol Channing. He died March 3, 2018 at the age of 88.
As a composer, Mr. Schmidt was the most idiosyncratic of the generation that gave us Stephen Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, Bock & Harnick and Strouse & Adams. That may have come from the fact that Mr. Schmidt never had formal musical training, and, indeed, never learned to read or write music. He invented his own style, and became more experimental as he grew older. Like Irving Berlin, Mr. Schmidt had a transcriber write down his melodies as he played them. He was best known for composing The Fantasticks, which ran Off-Broadway for 42 years. He died February 28, 2018 at the age of 88.
The celebrated playwright of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf wrote myriad plays, novels, and poems illuminating the hardships of and journeys toward liberation for black women, often while challenging the conventions of traditional, white-dominated Western culture. For colored girls… was considered a “choreopoem,” weaving spoken word and dance pieces to tell the story of seven black women, each identified solely by a color (Ms. Shange herself played the Lady in Orange.) After A Raisin in the Sun, it was the second play by a black woman to be produced on Broadway. Shange was an Obie winner and recieved the Living Legend Award from the National Black Theatre Festival in 1993; she earned a Tony nomination, Grammy nomination, and Emmy nomination for for colored girls. She died October 20, 2018 at the age of 70.
Ms. Shelley was most known for her Broadway appearances in The Elephant Man, for which she won a Tony Award, and Wicked, in which she original the role of Madame Morrible. She made her Broadway debut in the original company of The Odd Couple, playing Gwendolyn Pigeon. She later reprised her role in both the film and TV series adaptation of the Neil Simon classic. She received Tony nominations for additional Broadway stints in Stepping Out and Billy Elliot. She passed August 31, 2018 at the age of 79.
The comedic playwright, often considered the most successful commercial writer in American theatre history, created numerous hits over his long career, including Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys, California Suite, and Brighton Beach Memoirs. He also found success with musicals, lending his talents to Little Me, Sweet Charity, Promises, Promises, and They’re Playing Our Song. Fifteen of his shows were nominated for Tony Awards, with three—The Odd Couple, Biloxy Blues, and Lost in Yonkers—winning. The latter also won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He died August 26, 2018 at the age of 91.
David Ogden Stiers
Mr. Stiers made his Broadway debut as a member of the City Center Acting Company, appearing in simultaneous repertory productions of The Three Sisters, The Beggar's Opera, Measure for Measure, Scapin, and Next Time I'll Sing to You in 1973 and early 1974. Two months after the limited engagement, he went on to appear in Ulysses in Nighttown before starring in the long-running Stephen Schwartz musical The Magic Show. Mr. Stiers played "Feldman the Magnificent," an eccentric nightclub magician. He later returned to the stage in 2009's White Christmas as General Henry Waverly, marking his final Broadway performance. He died March 3, 2018 at the age of 75.
In addition to producing such Broadway productions as the Tony-winning Da, Rockabye Hamlet, The Night of the Tribades, and Pump Boys and Dinettes, Ms. Strauss brought free Shakespeare to her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. Inspired by and with the encouragement of Joe Papp and the Public Theater, she founded the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, which presented its premiere production in 1993. She died September 15, 2018 at the age of 91.
Mr. Taylor, a prolific modern dance choreographer, founded the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1954. He was best known for Esplanade, Aureole, and Orbs. He created roles for such fellow dance artists as Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine. Before branching out on their own, Pina Bausch and Twyla Tharp were members of his company. He died August 29, 2018 at the age of 88.
A prolific actor and director, Mr. Weldon served as the artistic director of Negro Ensemble Company from 2005—succeeding co-founder Douglas Turner Ward—until his death. He joined the company in 1970, performing in such works as the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier’s Play, The Brownsville Raid, and the Tony-winning Broadway production of The River Niger. As a director, Weldon helmed numerous productions with the company, including Colored People Time, The Waiting Room, Savanna Black and Blue, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water and the company’s 50th anniversary revival of A Soldier’s Play, which was subsequently remounted at the Gene Frankel Theatre earlier this year.
Sammy J. Williams
Williams created the role of Paul in A Chorus Line and won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance. Crafted from the true stories of Broadway’s chorus members, Michael Bennett’s seminal work also starred the actors behind these stories. The character of Paul was largely based on the experiences of co-writer Nicholas Dante, while Williams’ story about going to dance class to follow in his sister’s footsteps and realizing “I can do that!” became the storyline for Mike. He died March 17, 2018 at the age of 69.
The director, playwright, producer, and theatre designer conceived and produced the 1977 Broadway production of Dracula, which earned him an honorary Tony Award for Most Innovative Production of a Revival. The artist was also nominated in 1979 for his set design of an equally macabrely titled play: The Crucifier of Blood. He later helped found New York University’s Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. He died November 27, 2018 at the age of 90.
A classic showbiz producer, Zadan balanced showmanship and business acumen to gain the trust of major network and studio executives, who were willing to put millions behind his projects. Meanwhile, his respect and admiration for talent emboldened such artists as Midler, who took on Rose in the made-for-television adaptation of the 1959 Broadway Golden Age musical Gypsy, and Whitney Houston, who joined him and Neil Meron on Disney’s 1997 television remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. With producing partner Meron, Zadan helped revitalize the musical as a television event with a series of live broadcasts on NBC, including The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz, Hairspray, and the Emmy-winning Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. He died August 20, 2018 a the age of 69.
Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Zorich studied drama at the Goodman Theater before making his Broadway performing debut in 1960 in Becket, sharing the stage with Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn. He went on to appear on Broadway 18 more times, including a Tony-nominated turn in Hadrian VII, the original production of The Odd Couple (standing by for Walter Matthau), the 1993 and 2001 revivals of She Loves Me and Follies, and, in 2003, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He died January 30, 2018 at the age of 93.