Rebecca Blunk, former executive director of the New England Foundation for the Arts, died in late June at the age of 60. A passionate advocate for the arts, Blunk was responsible for the creation and advancement of several organizations, including the National Dance Project, the National Theatre Project and a Native American arts program.
Douglas N. Cook, producing artistic director emeritus of the Utah Shakespeare Festival and co-founder of the Shakespeare Theatre Association, died in late May at the age of 84. Cook was also a talented scenic designer whose work included the Adams Memorial Shakespearean Theatre at Southern Utah University in 1977.
Polish playwright and poet Tadeusz Różewicz died in April at 92 years of age. A survivor of the Holocaust, Różewicz won several prestigious awards for his poetry. One of the most widely regarded Polish writers of the 20th century, his work has been translated into more than 40 languages.
Renowned actor Mickey Rooney died in April at age 93. A legend of both film and stage, Rooney made over 200 movies over the course of his career. He was nominated for five Emmy Awards and was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1983.
Director of production at New York’s Performance Space 122 Derek Lloyd died in late April at the age of 45. Lloyd was known as a mentor and teacher to many young artists and technicians.
Phillip Hayes Dean, who died in April at the age of 83, was a playwright, actor, director and teacher at the University of Michigan. He appeared alongside Helen Hunt in The Wisteria Trees and is most widely known for his play Paul Robeson, which ran on Broadway in 1978.
Robert Christen, resident lighting designer and master electrician at the Goodman Theatre of Chicago, died in early March at age 64. During his 42 dedicated years at the Goodman, Christen designed over 100 productions, including all 36 productions of A Christmas Carol performed since the classic’s original staging in 1978.
Actor James Rebhorn died in March at the age of 65. Often cast as lawyers or politicians, Rebhorn is perhaps best known for his role on the Showtime drama Homeland. He was also a regular at the Roundabout Theatre Company, his most recent appearance being in Too Much, Too Much, Too Many.
Robert L. Daniels, a former theatre critic at Variety and Daily Variety, died in February at the age of 81. Not only a prolific critic, Daniels also directed and acted in community theatre and penned a book entitled Laurence Olivier: Theater and Cinema.
Composer Mitch Leigh died in mid-March at the age of 86. Leigh’s biggest professional success was Man of La Mancha, which won five Tony Awards, including one for Leigh himself. Despite never having another Broadway hit, Leigh composed the music for many other shows and did abundant work in advertising.
James Waites, former dramatic critic for The Sydney Morning Herald, died in February at 58 years of age. Waites also reviewed for the National Times in Australia and in more recent years started his own blog, where he continued to express his love of theatre.
Actor and producer Ed Vassallo died in late February at age 45. Vassallo was a board member of the Labyrinth Theater Company as well as a mentor and educator. As an actor, Vassallo appeared in several productions, including the 2006 revival of Awake and Sing! on Broadway.
Marita Woodruff, a former theatre director at Webster University, died in mid-February at the age of 86. During her teaching career, Woodruff directed over 80 productions and helped transform Webster University’s Theatre Impact, a troupe that included students and professional actors, into the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
Gene Feist, founder of the Roundabout Theatre Company, died in March at the age of 91. Feist founded the now hugely influential company in 1965 and served as artistic director until 1988. Feist was also a playwright, and was awarded the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in 1996.
Charles Marowitz, a renowned critic, director and playwright, died in early May at the age of 80. Marowitz’s many achievements included co-directing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s experimental group in London and reviewing plays for several prominent publications. He also wrote Sherlock’s Last Case, which reached Broadway in 1987.