RUNAWAYS Composer, Theatre Innovator Elizabeth Swados Passes Away at 64

By: Jan. 05, 2016
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BroadwayWorld is saddened to report that Tony nominee Elizabeth Swados, composer of Broadway's RUNAWAYS, theatre educator, off-Broadway director and more, has passed away. She was 64.

Adam Feldman broke the news via Twitter this evening.

Perhaps best known for her Broadway and international smash hit RUNAWAYS, Swados has composed, written and directed for more than 30 years. Some of her works include the Obie Award-winning TRILOGY at La MaMa, ALICE AT THE PALACE with Meryl Streep at the New York Shakespeare Theater Festival and GROUNDHOG, which was optioned by Milos Forman for a film. Her work has been performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, at La MaMa, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, and locations all over the world. She has composed highly acclaimed dance scores for well-known choreographers in the US, Europe and South America.

Among Swados' other Broadway credits are DOONESBURY and THE CHERRY ORCHARD. A FABLE, HAMLET, GROUNDHOG, JONAH, THE RED SNEAKS, THE BEAUTIFUL LADY, LULLABYE AND GOODNIGHT, THE HAGGADAH, A PASSOVER CANTATA, ALICE IN CONCERT, THE SEAGULL, DISPATCHES and more -- on which Swados worked as director, conductor, or composer -- appeared off-Broadway.

Ms. Swados has also attributed scores to many films, including the upcoming documentary, AUF WIEDERSEHEN, about a family searching for the truth about the Nazi participation in Vienna and the Jews who may have aided them. She has also been commissioned to write a musical theater piece about the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in Manhattan as well as a musical evening of family theater featuring the poetry of Roald Dahl at the Atlantic Theater Company. She is also working on a new musical called THE THREE GODS, a comedy based in an insane asylum.

Ms. Swados has been creating issue-oriented theater with young people for her entire career. This work has culminated in a theatrical extravaganza for New York University, THE REALITY SHOW, about the trials, tribulations and joys of college in New York City. The piece uses rock and roll, dance and edgy humor and is performed each year by NYU students at venues such as Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. This year THE REALITY SHOW has become international and will be performed for the brand new NYU campus in Abu Dhabi.

Her latest musical, KASPAR HAUSER: A FOUNDLING'S OPERA premiered at the Flea Theater in Manhattan in the Spring of 2009, and was featured in PAPERMAG's list of Downtown Theater Favorites of 2009. Other recent productions include BOOKS COOK! at the Atlantic Theater Company, ATONEMENT, a theatrical oratorio presented by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, an adaptation of S. Ansky's THE DYBBUK at NYU/Tisch, SPIDER OPERAS at PS122 (with Mabou Mines), and POLITICAL SUBVERSITIES, a political revue that has been presented in two Culture Project festivals as well as at Joe's Pub.

In conjunction with Forward Face, Ms. Swados recently released a children's CD called EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT that has been distributed to three thousand schools around the country. She has published novels, non-fiction books, and children's books to great acclaim and received the Ken Award as well as a New York Public Library Award for her book MY DEPRESSION: A PICTURE BOOK. Ms. Swados published a theatrical text book AT PLAY: TEACHING TEENAGERS THEATER, and she has just released her first collection of poems through Hanging Loose Press. THE ONE AND ONLY HUMAN GALAXY explores the life of Harry Houdini and experiments with the idea of escapism.

Other awards include five Tony nominations, three Obie Awards, Guggenheim Fellowship, Ford Grant, Helen Hayes Award, Lila Acheson Wallace Grant, PEN Citation and others.

In Elizabeth's memory, please take a moment to read BroadwayWorld's 2005 piece "Celebrating Innovative Women of Theater: Elizabeth Swados."

Much of the above bio originally appeared on Elizabeth Swados' website.