Broadway Director, Author & Producer Mark Bramble Passes Away at 68
Mark Bramble, the American theatre director, author and producer died yesterday (February 20, 2018) at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore following complications related to cardiovascular hypertension according to the physician on call. He was 68 years old. His passing was reported by his long-time business manager and friend, Richard Koenigsberg.
Born on December 7, 1950 in Chestertown, Maryland to David and Margaret Bramble, Mr. Bramble grew up near Chestertown, Maryland and was educated at McDonogh School, Owings Mills, Maryland; Emerson College, Boston; and New York University.
He began his theatrical career working as an apprentice in David Merrick's office in 1971, and for whom he worked on many Broadway productions. As an author, his work includes the 1980 musical Barnum, with songs by Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart. He wrote the book for The Three Musketeers (1984) with the music of Rudolph Friml.
He was nominated for the Tony Award three times: the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Barnum (1980) and fo r42nd Street (1981), and the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, 42nd Street (2001). The 1981 production of 42ndStreet won the Tony award for Best Musical and became a long running hit, and the 2001 production won the Tony Award for Best Revival. The 1984 London production of 42nd Street won the Olivier Award for Best Musical.
He directed and was co-librettist for the 2001 revival of 42nd Street with songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and was the co-author of the book for the original 42nd Street in 1980, which was produced by David Merrick. He directed many productions of 42nd Street, in London, Sydney, Shanghai, Tokyo, Amsterdam and Vienna.
He collaborated with Michael Stewart on many shows, including The Grand Tour (1978) with songs by Jerry Herman,Pieces of Eight, a musical adaptation of Treasure Island with songs by Jule Styne, and the off Broadway opera Elizabeth & Essex based on Maxwell Anderson's Elizabeth The Queen, and was an assistant on the 1974 musical Mack and Mabel.
Mr. Bramble wrote the libretto and directed, with music by Henry Krieger, for the musical Fat Pig, which premiered inLeicester, England, in November 1987. He adapted and staged Notre Dame (1991) at Saddler's Wells, London.
Following the London launch of the revival of 42nd Street in March of 2017 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Mark returned to Gresham Hall outside Tolchester, Maryland, his boyhood home which he had recently completely remodeled. A deeply knowledgeable gardener and collector of rare and unusual specimen plants, he enjoyed his several acre gardens overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. He kept many of the specimen plants in his expansive greenhouse filled with his prize orchid collection. Orchids fascinated him as he propagated them along with an unusual collection of coleus topiary standards which he cultivated and formed.
Mr. Bramble was also a passionate collector of tea caddies. According to his lifelong friend, Mr. Stiles T. Colwill, former Board Chair of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Mark started with a small collection of caddies formed by his late mother and grew the collection to well over 500. Drawn from international sources during his many worldwide travels with the various productions of his shows, the collection is believed to be one of the largest and most important known today. Mr. Bramblehad written on this subject in the 2017 boldly completed book A Tea Caddy Collection. A series of exhibitions of the collection were shown to much critical acclaim, including at Homewood House Museum at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and at the Historic Odessa Foundation in Delaware.
He was a member of the Dramatist's Guild, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers.
Mr. Bramble is survived by his two brothers and their spouses, David & Holly Bramble and Alan & Cathy Bramble, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements as well as a celebration of his life will be announced at a later date.