TheatreWorks USA Co-Founder Jay Harnick Dies at 78

On February 27th, Jay Harnick, the co-founder and former artistic director of TheatreWorks USA, died at the age of 78 after suffering a long illness.

The brother of lyricist Sheldon Harnick, Jay Harnick was born in 1928 and raised in the Chicago area.  He started out as a performer, and was seen on Broadway in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Alive and Kicking, John Murray Anderson's Almanac, and Phoenix '55.  His other Broadway credits included Tartuffe, for which he was Production Stage Manager, and The Sudden and Re-Accidental Rise of Horse Johnson, which he produced.

With Charles Hull, he founded the children's theatre company TheatreWorks USA in 1961.  He was also its artistic director until 2000, after which he continued to sit on its Board of Directors.  TheatreWorks continues to present shows, and the website describes the company as "America's largest theatre for young and family audiences. Our plays, musicals, and guest artists tour all over the United States, to at least 47 states every year."

Harnick was also a director, and staged productions of, among other shows, Fiddler on the Roof and Fiorello! - both with lyrics by his brother and music by Jerry Bock.

In 2000, the Actors' Fund of America presented Harnick and Hull with its Medal of Honor.

Visit for more on TheatreWorks USA.

He is survived by his wife, actress Barbara Barrie, and their children Aaron and Jane.

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