In Memoriam: A Look at the Theatre Artists We Lost in 2023 | Playbill

Obituaries In Memoriam: A Look at the Theatre Artists We Lost in 2023

Playbill remembers the actors, directors, playwrights, and other familiar faces of the stage who died this year.

In a year of precipitous highs and humbling lows, the theatre community has mourned the loss of numerous icons and influences. Playbill commemorates those we've lost in 2023, whose legacies stand as a reminder of what can be achieved in this business we call show. 

Click through to read more in the individuals' full Playbill obituaries.

John Victor Schmidt
January 8, 1922 - December 24, 2022 (Mr. Schmidt's passing was announced in the new year)

Mr. Schmidt was a modern renaissance man who at various times worked as a Broadway vocalist and stage manager, a private detective, a university professor, a farmer, and a national champion pole vaulter. Mr. Schmidt was a member of the original Broadway production of Brigadoon, as well as Paint Your Wagon.

Frank Galati
November 29, 1943 - January 2, 2023

Mr. Galati was a leading member of the Chicago theatre scene. Known for his skill at bringing classic American novels to the stage, his adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath was a significant success, netting him two Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Direction of a Play, as well as a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play.

Melinda Dillon
October 13, 1939 - January 9, 2023

Ms. Dillon, who was Tony-nominated for her portrayal of Honey in Edward Albee's classic play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, made her Broadway debut in the play at 23, leading to a vibrant Broadway career that included starring roles in You Know I Can't Hear You When The Water's Running, A Way of Life, Paul Sills' Story Theatre, and Ovid's Metamorphoses

Graeme Malcolm
July 31, 1951 - January 10, 2023

Mr. Malcolm was an actor of gravitas, appearing on Broadway as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock's Last Case, the Pharaoh in Aida, and Harry Dalton in Equus. Additional Broadway credits included Death and the King's Horseman, the 1996 revival of The King and I, The Real Thing, and Translations, as well as the first national tour of David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly.

Carole Cook
January 14, 1924 - January 11, 2023

A protégé of Lucille Ball, Mr. Cook was a star of the stage and screen, assuming the Dolly Levi mantle from Carol Channing; she was the first to play the title role in the musical Hello, Dolly! after Ms. Channing. Additionally, she originated the role of Maggie Jones in 42nd Street, and was a fierce advocate for AIDS research and support for those affected by the disease.

Charles Kimbrough
May 23, 1936 - January 11, 2023

Mr. Kimbrough was a Tony nominee, known for starring in TV's Murphy Brown and his appearances in the original Broadway productions of Stephen Sondheim's Company and Sunday in the Park with George. On screen, Mr. Kimbrough was Chef Boyardee in a series of commercials for the canned spaghetti and meatball product, and the voice of mature gargoyle Victor in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Peggy Hickey
March 5, 1961 - January 22, 2023

Working in both film and theatre, Ms. Hickey choreographed The Brady Bunch Movie, and for a host of television programs. On stage, her work was seen in productions at Goodspeed, Sante Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Lincoln Center and the Châtelet in Paris. On Broadway, she choreographed Anastasia and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.

Andrew Leynse
1969 - January 20, 2023

In his 21-year tenure leading Primary Stages, Mr. Leynse was director and founding member of the Primary Stages Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group and helped launch the Primary Stages/Fordham MFA in Playwriting and the Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA). He introduced countless new writers to New York theatre audiences, among them Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter, Kate Hamill, and Billy Porter.

Eugene Lee
March 9, 1939 - February 6, 2023

Mr. Lee was four-times Tony nominated, winning thrice for his work on Candide, Sweeney Todd, and Wicked, with his designs for the musical Ragtime netting his fourth nomination. Starting in 1975, Mr. Lee began work on what became the longest-running comedy sketch show on television, Saturday Night Live. Mr. Lee was the production designer for the show from its inception until his death.

Burt Bacharach
May 12, 1928 - February 8, 2023

Mr. Bacharach is best known as the writer behind numerous pop songs that debuted throughout the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, most written with lyricist Hal David. His jazz background led to unique harmony and syncopated rhythms that set his songs apart, with a catalog including such titles as "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," "(They Long to Be) Close to You," and "That's What Friends Are For."

Raquel Welch
September 5, 1940 - February 15, 2023

The screen siren came to Broadway in 1981, replacing Lauren Bacall in the musical Woman of the Year. Ms. Welch received rave reviews, hailing her as a showstopper and a wonderful dancer. She returned to Broadway in 1997, again as a replacement, this time for Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria, which Ms. Welch would lead for the final month of its run.

Chaim Topol
September 9, 1935 - March 9, 2023

In 1966, Mr. Topol began performing the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, with which he would remain associated for the rest of his life. He performed the role on and off for more than 50 years, including in the film adaptation, beating out Zero Mostel, Danny Kaye, Herschel Bernardi, Rod Steiger, Danny Thomas, Walter Matthau, Richard Burton, and Frank Sinatra.

Nicholas Lloyd Webber
July 2, 1979 - March 25, 2023

The eldest son of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, Nick Lloyd Webber was a musician in his own right, writing for several television advertisements and dramas, including BBC 1's Love, Lies and Records. He provided music for 56 Up, the eighth installment of Michael Apted's legendary documentary series, and licensed his work to Control Z, Monarca, and Grey’s Anatomy.

Ben Lipitz
July 28, 1964 - April 18, 2023

Mr. Lipitz played the warthog Pumbaa in The Lion King for more than 6,000 performances, holding the role both on Broadway and multiple national tours. He was one of the longest-tenured performers in the history of the musical

Todd Haimes
May 7, 1956 - April 19, 2023

Mr. Haimes was the longtime artistic director and guiding light of Roundabout Theatre Company, leading the company for 39 years. His tireless work transformed Roundabout from a 150-seat Off-Broadway company into one of the largest not-for-profit theatres in the United States.

Barry Humphries (Dame Edna)
February 17, 1934 - April 22, 2023

Over the course of his seven-decade-long career, Mr. Humphries created and performed as several satirical characters in addition to his notorious "Dame Edna Everage," such as "Sir Les Patterson," "Sandy Stone," "Barry McKenzie," and many more. His characters largely served as social commentary on Australian culture.

Harry Belafonte
March 1, 1927 - April 25, 2023

The cultural icon and civil rights activist found a career on the stage, both starring and composing for his Broadway debut John Murray Anderson's Almanac, for which he received both a Theatre World Award and 1954's Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. That same year, Mr. Belafonte starred in the film adaptation of Oscar Hammerstein II's Carmen Jones, opposite Dorothy Dandridge. 

Harry Belafonte

Jerry Springer
February 13, 1944 - April 27, 2023

Mr. Springer lead an eclectic life which brought him to the Broadway boards twice, as the slippery lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago, and the Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show. The response to his Chicago engagement was so great that Mr. Springer even went on tour with the musical for a brief spell. His self-titled tabloid talk show was considered a bellwether for sensationalism, garnering sky high ratings and courting controversy.

Don Sebesky
December 10, 1937 - April 29, 2023

Mr. Sebesky was a legend in the music arena. He was nominated for an eye-popping 31 Grammys throughout his career, winning three. For his television work, he received three Emmy nominations, and he was nominated four times for Best Orchestrations at the Tony Awards, winning twice for his work on Kiss Me, Kate and An American in Paris.

Barbara Bryne
April 1, 1929 - May 2, 2023

Ms. Bryne was a regular fixture of Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Minneapolis, Minnesota's Guthrie Theater, performing in a wide range of Shakespearean productions, including starring roles in King Lear, Richard III, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and more. On Broadway, however, she became a Sondheim favorite, originating two maternal roles: George's mother in Sunday in the Park with George, and Jack's Mother in Into The Woods

Adam Brace
March 25, 1980 - April 29, 2023

Mr. Brace posthumously made his Broadway debut as the director of Alex Edelman's Just For Us. He was a dedicated director, playwright, dramaturg, educator script editor, and writer, across multiple artistic disciplines: namely comedy and theatre. In the past decade, Mr. Brace taught a wide variety of classes within the English department at Southampton University, including Post WWII Drama and English as a Foreign Language.

Laura Pels
May 1, 1931 - May 3, 2023

Ms. Pels was the namesake and president of the Laura Pels International Foundation for Theatre, with which Ms. Pels formed the goal of nurturing "serious theatre," or theatre that she felt took risks and challenged both artists and audiences. She prioritized finding plays that supported classic theatre, advanced the work of great playwrights, and made theatre more accessible to the general public.

Joaquin Romaguera
September 5, 1932 - May 9, 2023

In 1979, Mr. Romaguera made his Broadway debut as the secondary antagonist, Adolfo Pirelli, in Sweeney Todd, where his full throated tenor voice caught the imagination of Sondheim fans throughout the ages. Mr. Romaguera was a member of the New York City Opera company, where he created roles in several NYCO world premieres, including The Dead Man in Hugo Weisgall's Nine Rivers from Jordan, and Professor Risselberg in Gian Carlo Menotti's The Most Important Man.

Ed Ames
July 9, 1927 - May 21, 2023

Mr. Ames was a member of The Ames Brothers, an immensely successful brotherly quartet in the 1950s with 49 charting songs and a syndicated television program, The Ames Brothers Show. Following the dissolution of the band in 1963, Mr. Ames pursued an acting career, appearing Off-Broadway in The Fantasticks and in a production of The Crucible before making his Broadway debut in Bob Merrill's Carnival!, replacing original lead Jerry Orbach. 

Tina Turner
November 27, 1939 - May 24, 2023

Ms. Turner was the subject of the Tony nominated biomusical Tina, for which Adrienne Warren won the 2020 Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. As an actress, Ms. Turner played The Acid Queen on screen in the 1975 film Tommy, based on the British group's 1969 album of the same name—the film was later adapted into the stage rock musical The Who's Tommy. The work became a landmark piece of the musical film trend of the late 20th century.

Tina Turner

Robin Wagner
August 31, 1933 - May 29, 2023

Mr. Wagner rose from humble beginnings to become a purveyor of technological marvels, automating American theatrical set design and setting the standard for the latter half of the 20th century. Mr. Wagner was nominated for 10 Tony awards, winning for On The Twentieth Century, City of Angels, and The Producers. In total, Mr. Wagner worked on 63 different Broadway productions.

Cynthia Weil
October 18, 1940 - June 1, 2023

Ms. Weil trained as an actress and singer before turning to songwriting, where she was a protégé of Frank Loesser. In the summer of 1961, Ms. Weill married Barry Mann, a fellow songwriter, cementing an artistic collaboration that would become one of the most influential in the mid-century era of rock and pop music in the United States. Of the duo's many successful songs, some of their most popular included "On Broadway," "Walking in the Rain," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," "We Gotta Get out of This Place," "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration," "Make Your Own Kind of Music," and "Here You Come Again."

Treat Williams
December 1, 1951 - June 12, 2023

Mr. Williams made his Broadway debut as a replacement Danny Zuko in the original run of Grease, which was shortly followed by his film debut in the thriller Deadly Hero, opposite James Earl Jones. He maintained careers both on screen and the stage, playing Michael Brick in the film adaptation of Terrence McNally's The Ritz, Jerry Hyland in a rare Broadway revival of Kaufman and Hart's Once in a Lifetime, and Berger in the film adaptation of the culture-defining musical Hair

Glenda Jackson
May 9, 1936 - June 15, 2023

A Tony, Oscar, Emmy, and BAFTA winner, Ms. Jackson was considered one of the most famous actresses in Britain. She originated the role of Charlotte Corday in Marat/Sade, appeared on Broadway in the plays Rose, Strange Interlude, and Macbeth. She also became a Member of Parliament, serving as a fierce opponent to Prime Minister Tony Blair, particularly surrounding financial barriers he attempted to place on high education and on his handling of the Iraq War.

Paxton Whitehead
October 17, 1937 - June 16, 2023

A noted actor, writer, and dramaturg, Mr. Whitehead worked on nearly 20 Broadway productions, ranging from George Bernard Shaw's Candida to Theresa Rebeck's Bernhardt/Hamlet in 2018. In 1980, Mr. Whitehead obtained both a Tony and Drama Desk nomination for his performance as Pellinore opposite Richard Burton in Camelot.

Jack Goldstein
March 5, 1949 - June 16, 2023

Mr. Goldstein was a powerful New York theatre executive who helped to shape the very structure of the industry at the end of the 20th century. He began his career in New York as the executive director of Save the Theaters in 1982, following the demolition of many historically important Broadway theatres. He was later the executive director of TDF, formerly known as the Theatre Development Fund.

John Deyle
July 6, 1954 - June 22, 2023

Mr. Deyle in the original Broadway production of Annie, the 1980 revival of Camelot, the original Broadway company of Footloose, and Urinetown. On tour, Mr. Deyle played Bert Bratt in the 1996 production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and he appeared in three different tours of Camelot in various roles, including Forest Merlyn. 

Sheldon Harnick
April 30, 1924 - June 23, 2023

Mr. Harnick, alongside composer Jerry Bock, forged one of Broadway's most successful composing teams, responsible for such classics as Fiddler on the Roof and She Loves Me. Mr. Harnick and Mr. Bock were nominated for Tony Awards for Fiddler on the Roof and She Loves Me, as well as Fiorello!, a musical about New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia; The Apple Tree, a triptych of short musicals about the complicated relationship between man and woman; and The Rothschilds, about the famed Jewish family of financiers. They won for Fiorello! and Fiddler. Other works included Portofino and Tenderloin.

Sheldon Harnick

Betta St. John
November 26, 1929 - June 23, 2023

Born Betty Jean Striegler in Hawthorne, California, Ms. St. John was one of the Meglin Kiddies troupe of child actors, singers, and dancers (alongside Shirley Temple). On stage, Mr. St. John played Louise in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel on Broadway and in the touring company before being cast as Liat in South Pacific.

Alan Arkin
March 26, 1934 - June 29, 2023

Known initially for his comedic skills, Mr. Arkin could navigate between tragedy and humor with an innate sense of how the two disciplines fed directly into each other. Working closely with director Mike Nichols on Luv, he perfected the role of the unintentionally comedic misfit, an archetype with which he would continue to engage throughout his career.

Jeffrey Carlson
June 23, 1975 – July 6, 2023

A stage and screen star, Mr. Carlson notably played one of the first trans characters on daytime television in the series All My Children. On the Broadway stage, he starred in Edward Albee's The Goat or Who is Sylvia?, a revival of Molière's Tartuffe, and in Boy George's Broadway musical Taboo.

Carlin Glynn
February 19, 1940 - July 13, 2023

Ms. Glynn was the Tony-winning star of Broadway's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and the mother of stage and screen star Mary Stuart Masterson. Whorehouse came along shortly after Glynn made her big screen debut as Mae Barber in Three Days of the Condor in 1975. She also made memorable appearances in Sixteen Candles and The Trip to Bountiful.

Pamela Blair
December 5, 1949 - July 23, 2023

Ms. Blair made her Broadway debut at the age of 19 in the ensemble of Promises, Promises, which would turn out to be the first of many associations with choreographer Michael Bennett. She was also the original Val in the Tony-winning musical A Chorus Line. The character was reportedly somewhat based on Ms. Blair's own life, with one important exception: she had never gone under the knife for plastic surgery.

Mark B. Simon
May 26, 1953 - July 16, 2023

Mr. Simon made his Broadway debut as a producer of the 1986 revival of Joe Orton's Loot starring Joseph Maher, Zoë Wanamaker, Zeljko Ivanek, and Alec Baldwin. He later turned his attentions to casting, working with Johnson/Liff & Associates, Binder Casting, and Livent, before forming Mark Simon Casting. Among his Broadway casting credits were Barrymore, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Parade, Sweet Smell of Success, Hollywood Arms, Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, Lovemusik, and 13.

Jerome Coopersmith
August 11, 1925 - July 21, 2023

Mr. Coopersmith began his writing career in TV, writing for the quiz show Americana in 1947. He would spend the rest of the '40s and '50s writing for a number of television programs of varying acclaim, including The Gabby Hayes Show, Johnny Jupiter, Armstrong Circle Theater, and others. He made his Broadway debut as the book writer for the 1965 musical Baker Street, for which he received a 1965 Tony nod for Best Author of a Musical.

Clifton Oliver
December 3, 1975 - August 2, 2023

Mr. Oliver began his career on Broadway in the ensemble of Wicked and served as an understudy for Fiyero. He also played the role of Benny in In the Heights opposite Jordin Sparks. Oliver also opened the Las Vegas production of The Lion King as Simba, a role he later played in the national tour and finally on Broadway in 2011.

Walter Charles
April 4, 1945 – August 3, 2023

Mr. Charles made his Broadway debut in the original production of Grease, as the replacement for the character Vince Fontaine. He next opened 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the original cast. His career flourished throughout the following decade, where he appeared in the original casts of beloved and history-making Broadway musicals like Sweeney Todd, Cats, and La Cage Aux Folles.

Tom Jones
February 17, 1928 – August 11, 2023

Mr. Jones was a legendary lyricist and librettist who, with the late composer Harvey Schmidt, created the longest-running musical in theatre history: The Fantasticks. The musical ran until January 13, 2002, playing 17,162 performances—the longest continuous run of any show in American history, and the longest continuous run of any musical in the world. 

Chris Peluso
July 1, 1983 - August 15, 2023

Mr. Peluso made a name for himself on Broadway as a favored understudy, covering The Balladeer in the 2004 Tony-winning revival of Assassins, both Louis and Nicolas in Elton John's Lestat, and all three leading male roles in Beautiful The Carole King Musical: Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann, and Don Kirshner. Elsewhere on Broadway, he played Sky in Mamma Mia! On the road, he both starred and covered the role of Fiyero in multiple tours of Wicked. Off-Broadway, he starred in The Glorious Ones.

Ron Cephas Jones
January 8, 1957 – August 19, 2023

A star of stage and screen, Mr. Jones' Off-Broadway credits were numerous and included roles in Holiday Heart, Everybody's Ruby, Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, Our Lady of 121st Street, Richard III, The Wooden Breeks, Satellites, Two Trains Running, The Overwhelming, Wildflower, Titus Andronicus, Hurt Village, Storefront Church, and Between Riverside and Crazy. He received Lucille Lortel nominations for his performances in Two Trains Running and Our Lady of 121st Street and an Audelco Award nomination for his work in the former.

Ellen Fitzhugh
July 5, 1942 – July 14, 2023

Ms. Fitzhugh was best known for her work as lyricist for the Broadway musical Grind, which earned her a Tony nomination for Best Original Score and a Drama Desk nomination for Best Lyrics, both in 1985. Her additional stage work includes Paradise Found with Richard Nelson co-directed by Harold Prince and Susan Stroman; Herringbone with Tom Cone and Skip Kennon; Muscle with Lapine and William Finn; book and lyrics to Los Otros and The Nine Fathers of Ariel with Michael John LaChiusa. Her most recent musical was Los Otros, written with LaChiusa, which played Off-Broadway in 2022.

Nathan Louis Jackson
December 4, 1978 – August 22, 2023

Mr. Jackson's plays included Broke-ology, When I Come to Die, Sticky Traps, The Mancherios, The Last Black Play, and Brother Toad. His plays were presented nationwide, including at Lincoln Center Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Mr. Jackson also wrote for television, including NBC's Southland, Showtime's Shameless, Netflix's Luke Cage and 13 Reasons Why.

Franne Lee
December 30, 1941 – August 27, 2023

A three-time Tony Award-winning costume and scenic designer, Ms. Lee made her Broadway debut when she did the production design for the 1972 musical Dude. She then went on to design the set and costumes for the 1974 Broadway revival of Candide. Her other Broadway credits included Love for Love, The Skin of our Teeth, Some of My Best Friends, Sweeney Todd, Gilda Radner - Live from New York, The Moony Shapiro Songbook, and Rock 'N Roll! The First 5,000 Years. She also provided additional costume design for the 1993 revival of Camelot.

Tina Howe
November 21, 1937 - August 28, 2023

Ms. Howe wrote 14 full-length plays, including Closing Time, The Nest, Birth and After Birth, Museum, The Art of Dining, Painting Churches, Coastal Disturbances, Approaching Zanzibar, One Shoe Off, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Pride's Crossing, Rembrandt's Gift, Chasing Manet, and Cheri. Both Painting Churches and Pride's Crossing were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with Coastal Disturbances netting a Tony nomination.

Jimmy Buffett
December 25, 1946 – September 1, 2023

Mr. Buffett had an extensive career as a singer, songwriter, author, producer, and businessman. He is best known for the hit song "Margaritaville," his only single to reach the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10, and a collection of other albums in his self-proclaimed "drunken Caribbean rock 'n' roll" style. In the theatre industry, Mr. Buffett was a producer on Broadway's Big Fish, Doctor Zhivago, and Diana via Parrothead Productions (Parrothead being nickname given to Mr. Buffett's fans). His music also inspired the jukebox musical Escape to Margaritaville, which had a short run on Broadway in 2018.

Michael McGrath
September 25, 1957 - September 14, 2023

McGrath was one of the Main Stem's more prolific comedic character actors, appearing in 14 shows over a career of more than three decades. He made his Broadway debut in the ensemble of My Favorite Year in 1992, and went on to appear in The Goodbye Girl, Swinging On a Star, Little Me, Wonderful Town, Spamalot, Is He Dead?, Memphis, Born Yesterday, Nice Work if You Can Get It, On the Twentieth Century, She Loves Me, Tootsie, and, most recently, Plaza Suite.

Rose Gregorio
October 17, 1925 - August 17, 2023

Ms. Gregorio made her Broadway debut in The Owl and the Pussycat as a standby, alongside acclaimed director Robert Moore. Known for her gentle simplicity on the stage, she appeared on Broadway in The Investigation, Daphne in Cottage D, The Cuban Thing, and Jimmy Shine throughout the 1960s, all the while appearing on television and film in a variety of supporting parts.

Marilyn S. Miller
1934 - September 2, 2023

Ms. Miller came to New York in 1963, working as a lighting designer and stage manager for the Phoenix Theater, where she continued to work her way up, eventually becoming the company's general manager and executive director. With the Phoenix, she brought Boy Meets Girl, The Member of the Wedding (starring a young Glenn Close), Holiday, The Visit, The School for Wives, and Harvey with Helen Hayes and James Stewart to the stage.

Michael Gambon
October 19, 1940 - September 28, 2023

Dubbed The Great Gambon by the press, Mr. Gambon netted an impressive 13 Olivier nominations, bringing home the top prize in 1985 for A Chorus of Disapproval, in 1987 for A View From the Bridge, and in 1990 for Man of the Moment. Mr. Gambon made his Broadway debut in Michael Hare's Skylight, receiving a Tony nomination for his efforts. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Mr. Gambon periodically appeared in a number of films when not on the stage, including The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover with Helen Mirren; the film adaptation of Dancing at Lughnasa; and Károly Makk's The Gambler. In the 21st century, Mr. Gambon was immortalized for a generation as Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film series, taking over the role beginning with 2004's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban after the death of its original actor, Richard Harris.

Alan Eisenberg
April 15, 1935 - October 7, 2023

Mr. Eisenberg was the longest-serving executive director in the history of the Actors’ Equity Association. When Mr. Eisenberg retired from the union in 2005, membership in Actors' Equity had increased from 28,678 to 46,000, earnings for stage managers and actors jumped from $118.6 million to $250.3 million, and Equity investments increased in value from $1.7 million to more than $22 million.

Steven Lutvak
July 18, 1959 - October 9, 2023

As a singer-songwriter, Mr. Lutvak performed across the country, including successful New York engagements at Carnegie Hall. From this solo material, Mr. Lutvak released two albums, The Time It Take and Ahead of My Heart, all the while continuing to pursue his collaborative musical theatre dreams. Mr. Lutvak made his Broadway debut with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder in 2014, for which he supplied the music, and co-wrote the lyrics with Robert L. Freedman. The musical won the Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards for Best Musical.

Joanna Merlin
July 15, 1931 – October 15, 2023

Ms. Merlin began her career as an actor. She appeared in Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 remake of The Ten Commandments as Jethro's Daughter before making her Broadway debut in Becket. Her most notable stage role would come in 1964, when she created the role of Tevye's eldest daughter Tzeitel in the original company of Fiddler on the Roof. As a casting director, she cast Hal Prince's entire string of 1970s landmark Stephen Sondheim musicals, including Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, and Merrily We Roll Along

Joanna Merlin

Jeff Fender
1963 - October 7, 2023

Mr. Fender was a purveyor of beautiful things. In the 1980s, Mr. Fender worked as an assistant to costume designers Patricia Zipprodt, Florence Klotz, and Barbara Matera, refining his work until his apex moment assisting Hilary Rosenfeld on the film Dirty Dancing. That led to the founding of his own Jeff Fender Studio. Mr. Fender specialized in silk painting, dyeing, and distressing, as well as dramatic embellishments including rhinestones, foil, and hand embroidery.

Haydn Gwynne
October 5, 1957 - October 20, 2023

On the stage, Ms. Gwynne starred in Tom Bolton's influential production of Hedda Gabler, Richard Cheshire's Way of the World, played Billie Burke in the West End production of Ziegfeld, and starred in the original West End company of City of Angels. But it was Billy Elliot the Musical that would immortalize her for a generation. Ms. Gwynne played Mrs. Wilkinson, the dance teacher, in the vastly successful coming of age musical. For her efforts in the West End production, she was nominated for an Olivier award. And for her reprisal of the role on Broadway, she received the Outer Critics Circle award, the Theatre World award, and the Drama Desk award, in addition to a Tony nomination.

Bill Kenwright
September 4, 1945 - October 23, 2023

As a producer, Mr. Kenwright enjoyed longstanding association with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which he brought to London's West End in 1980 and continued to revisit with new touring and London revivals throughout his career. As with his production of Joseph, he both directed and produced the long-running West End revival of Blood Brothers, which crossed the pond to Broadway in 1993 and earned him a Tony nomination. Mr. Kenwright would earn 10 Tony Award nods over his career, winning in 1992 for producing Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa and in 1997 for a revival of A Doll's House.

Robert Brustein
April 21, 1927 - October 29, 2023

A prolific leader in the American theatre, Mr. Brustein consistently positioned himself at the center of conflicts within the industry, pushing fiercely for fewer boundaries between artists and their audience. For more than 50 years he reviewed productions for The New Republic, and contributed to countless books, newspapers, and magazines in his mission to support "non-pandering" theatre outside of the for-profit model.

Frances Sternhagen
January 13, 1930 - November 27, 2023

Ms. Sternhagen appeared on Broadway in an impressive 26 plays and musicals. Her meteoric ascent as one of the great stage performers of her generation was undeniable, and by the end of the 1960's, she had starred to great acclaim in a wide range of Broadway productions, including The Carefree Tree, Viva Madison Avenue!, Great Day in the Morning, The Right Honourable Gentleman, You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running, The Cocktail Party, and Cock-a-Doodle Dandy.

Luigi Caiola
September 15, 1959 - November 26, 2023

After inheriting a thriving family real estate business, Mr. Caiola opted to invest much of his energy and resources into the culture of New York City, founding Caiola Productions with his sister Rose to guide the development of new works. Since its formation, Caiola Productions has helped develop more than 50 Broadway shows, and won eight Tony awards for its work on Dear Evan Hansen, The Color Purple, Once On This Island, Company, All the Way, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and the recent revival of Parade.

Sheila Smith
April 3, 1933 - November 30, 2023

Ms. Smith made her Broadway debut in 1963's Hot Spot opposite Judy Holliday. As of 2023, Ms. Smith was one of the few performers left from the original Broadway production of Mame, where she served as the standby for both Angela Lansbury as Mame and Bea Arthur as Vera. For her efforts, Ms. Smith was awarded the Theater World Award. And at various periods in 1967, Ms. Smith took over for both Lansbury and Arthur to great acclaim.

Michael Blakemore
June 18, 1928 - December 10, 2023

On the West End, Mr. Blakemore directed Noël Coward's Design for Living starring Vanessa Redgrave, David Hare's Knuckle, and Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, before turning his sights on New York, making a notable Broadway splash throughout the 1990's as the director of City of Angels, Peter Shaffer's Lettice and Lovage starring Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack, The Life, and, finally, the 1999 revival of Kiss Me, Kate.

Vinie Burrows
November 15, 1924 - December 25, 2023

Ms. Burrows made her Broadway debut in 1950 in The Wisteria Trees. Her numerous Broadway credits also include The Skin of Our Teeth, The Green Pastures, Mrs. Patterson, The Ponder Heart, and Mandingo. But it was her solo work that made her truly shine. Her 1968 Off-Broadway production of Walk Together Children broke all records to become the longest-running Off-Broadway one woman show at the time. She was also an activist for Civil Rights and women's rights, serving as a United Nations NGO.

Mbongeni Ngema
May 10, 1955 - December 27, 2023

Raised in the heart of Zululand during Apartheid, Mr. Ngema was the creative mind behind the musical Sarafina!, which explored a young student's fight against racial segregation after her teacher is jailed by the South African government. Coming to Broadway in 1988, Mr. Ngema directed and wrote the book for the musical and co-wrote the music and lyrics with Hugh Masekela.

Robert Nolan
1954 - December 27, 2023

Beginning as a personal assistant to Carol Channing and husband Charles Lowe during the extensive tours of Hello, Dolly! and Jerry’s Girls, Mr. Nolan was a professional theatrical manager for 24 years. Working as company manager on the national tour of My One and Only, Mr. Nolan guided many productions on Broadway, including Cabaret with Joel Grey, Starlight Express, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, and A Tale of Two Cities.

Maurice Hines
December 13, 1943 - December 29, 2023

Mr. Hines was born in Harlem, and made his Broadway debut in 1954 in The Girl in the Pink Tights. He would then go on to perform in several Broadway productions, including Eubie!, Sophisticated Ladies, Bring Back Birdie, and Uptown...It's Hot! The latter, which Mr. Hines also conceived, directed, and choreographed, earned him a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. He and his brother, Gregory Hines, performed as a duo for several concert appearances and in Francis Ford Coppola's 1984 film The Cotton Club

In Memoriam: Theatre Artists We Lost in 2023

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