Shaw Fest Loses A Friend, Resident Director Neil Munro Passes Away at 62
The Shaw Festival Company is deeply saddened to announce the passing of long-time Resident Director, Neil Munro. Mr. Munro died July 13, 2009 at the age of 62 at London Ontario's University Hospital after a lengthy illness. He is predeceased by his wife Carole Galloway and is survived by his sister Anna Munro, nephew John Munro and his mother-in-law Stella Galloway and sister-in-law Jackie Martinez.
On making this announcement, Jackie Maxwell commented: "Neil Munro created an indelible mark on the Shaw Festival. As a director he had a vision that was unique - blending extraordinarily detailed preparation with brilliant and at times outrageous ideas, always in the service of illuminating and revitalizing each play. His passion for theatre was immense, only matched by that for the artists he worked with - especially actors. As Resident Director, his commitment to and love for the Ensemble and all it stood for was clear daily as was his brilliant sceptical humour which unsuccessfully hid his true warmth and empathy. We already miss him terribly but our vivid memories of his talent and his passion will live on here at The Shaw, and I know, in the hearts of the many, many Canadians artists whose lives he touched."
Mr. Munro has been one of Canadian theatre's most vital artists for more than 35 years as a director, actor and playwright. He is revered at The Shaw as a director who brought a fascinating and often controversial directorial touch to many plays, notably, his recent productions of Somerset Maugham's The Circle and Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke (2007). Other Shaw Festival credits include: Michael O'Brien's adaptation of the H.G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man, The Constant Wife, Something on the Side, Man and Superman, Harlequinade, Misalliance, The Plough and the Stars, Detective Story, Chaplin (The Trial of Charles Spencer Chaplin, Esq.), The Man Who Came to Dinner, Laura, the North American premiere of Lord of the Flies, Time and the Conways, You Can't Take It With You, All My Sons, Joy, Berkeley Square, Counsellor-at-Law, Saint Joan, The Front Page, The Petrified Forest, Rashomon, Marsh Hay, The Seagull and all of the Festival's productions of the works of Granville Barker including The Voysey Inheritance, The Marrying of Ann Leete, Rococo, Waste, The Madras House, The Secret Life and His Majesty.
Born in Musselburgh, Scotland, Mr. Munro moved to Toronto at an early age. After graduating from the National Theatre School of Canada, he performed at the National Arts Centre, the Citadel Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Tarragon and the Toronto Free Theatre, as well as at the Shaw and Stratford Festivals.
Mr. Munro also appeared in many television and radio productions and feature films, most notably in The Jonah Look, which he also wrote, and as Beethoven in the Emmy award-winning Beethoven Lives Upstairs. Mr. Munro played the title role in CBC Radio's Investigations of Quentin Nickles series.
Mr. Munro also wrote for the stage. His adaptations for The Shaw included Feydeau's Something on the Side and Ibsen's Rosmersholm. His productions of Crossing Over and Bob's Kingdom at the Factory Theatre in Toronto won critical praise and in 1991 his adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, entitled Hamlet's Room, was recognized by Toronto theatre critics as one of the year's ten best plays.
He received a Best New Play Dora Award for Bob's Kingdom and a Best Director Dora Award for Hamlet's Room. He was also the recipient of two ACTRA awards and was a Chalmers Award nominee for best new play for Extreme Close Up.
Details regarding a memorial service will be announced at a later date.