Director Arthur Storch passed away in March at the age of 87. Storch was the founding artistic director of Syracuse Stage in upstate New York, where he served for 18 years. He subsequently became artistic director of Berkshire Theater Festival in Massachusetts, from 1994 to 1997. Storch’s directing credits on Broadway included The Owl and the Pussycat in 1964, The Impossible Years in 1965 and Tribute in 1978. On screen, he is best known for playing the ill-fated psychiatrist in The Exorcist in 1973.
Kevin Gray, Broadway’s youngest Phantom, died in February at the age of 54. Gray broke through in the 1985 Off-Broadway revival of Pacific Overtures and wehnt on to make his Broadway debut in his early thirties as the youngest actor to play the lead in Phantom of the Opera, performing the role 1,200 times. He also appeared in Chu Chem in 1989, The King and I in 1996 and the 2000 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Paul Ainsley, the original King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar, passed away in January, he was 67. Ainsley originated the role of King Herod in 1971 and reprised it on tour, in concert, in stock productions and at benefits. He was also a member of the Improvisational Theatre Project at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. Sitcom fans know Ainsley as Jim the Bartender in “Three’s Company.”
Actress Bonnie Franklin died in March of complications from pancreatic cancer. She was 69 years old. Franklin was nominated for a best-featured-actress Tony for Applause in 1970. From 1975 to 1984, she starred as Ann Fromano, a divorced woman, in the sitcom “One Day at a Time,” for which she was nominated for an Emmy in 1982.
Dancer Matt Mottex passed away in February at the age of 91 in France, where had lived since the mid-’70s. Mottex is most remembered for his turn as Caleb Pontipee in the 1954 film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. On Broadway, he created the role of the Jester in Once Upon a Mattress (1959) and also appeared in the 1957 Brigadoon revival. He also worked as a choreographer, creating the routines for Jennie on Broadway in 1963 and Aida at the Metropolitan Opera in 1959.
Santa Monica Playhouse performer Timothy Benge-Chadwick passed away in February at the age of 57. He was part of the Los Angeles–based theatre for over 30 years, working as a performer, graphic artist, designer and computer specialist. He appeared in the Playhouse productions And Awaaay We Go, Notes from Underground and Abandon All Hopes, for which he was a contributing writer.
Playwright Marina Keegan, a 2012 Yale University graduate, died in May 2012 at the age of 22 in a car crash. In honor of the one-year anniversary of her death, her play Utility Monster will premiere at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater in Massachusetts in May, coinciding with a memorial. Keegan’s musical Independents, for which she wrote the book, was staged at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2012.
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