Musical Theater Progressive Elizabeth Swados Dies at 64

first_imgListen to “Lullaby from Baby to Baby” from Swados’ Runaways, performed at the 2015 Lilly Awards Broadway Cabaret, below. Among the talented young cast are Fun Home Tony nominee Sydney Lucas, her brother Jake (currently in The King and I) and On Your Feet! ‘s Alexandria Suarez. View Comments RIP Liz Swados, my neighbor on Mercer Street growing up. Thanks for the copy work. Today we teach / the alphabet.— Robert Lopez (@lopezbobby) January 6, 2016 Elizabeth Swados, a prolific musical theater artist whose works included the socially charged Runaways, died on January 5 in New York. She was 64. Her death, caused by surgery complications after battling esophageal cancer, was confirmed to the New York Times by her wife, Roz Lichter.Runaways premiered as a cabaret in February 1978 at the Public Theater before moving to Broadway that spring. In addition to writing and directing, Swados developed a cast by reaching out to actual runaway teenagers and developing their stories into a musical revue frame. Swados received an Obie Award for Best Direction and received Tony nominations for the book, score, direction and choreography; the show received a nomination for Best Musical.Swados was born on February 5, 1951 in Buffalo, New York to Robert—a lawyer—and Sylvia Maisel—a former actress and poet. Robert passed away in 2012; Maisel took her own life after struggling with depression in 1974. Swados’ only sibling, Lincoln, died in 1989 after developing schizophrenia. She wrote of her family’s talents and tragedy in numerous memoirs, including My Depression: A Picture Book and The Four of Us: The Story of a Family.Swados studied music and creative writing at Bennington College, and before receiving her degree in 1973, she was tasked with scoring Andrei Serban’s adaptation of Madea at La MaMa. The score earned her her first Obie Award; she was 21. A few years later, she composed incidental music for the 1977 Broadway revivals of The Cherry Orchard and Agamemnon.Following Runaways, Swados composed the musical comedy Doonesbury for Broadway. In 1979, she composed Alice at the Palace, a musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s famous Wonderland-set stories. The Public Theater presentation starred Meryl Streep. Her most recent works include 2009 Kaspar Hauser: A Foundling’s Opera (a collaboration with Erin Courtney) and her 2010 oratorio Resilient Souls.In a 1991 interview with the New York Times, Swados said, “Broadway is a museum that’s not moving forward, and musical theater should reflect what and how we are now.” While her work gravitated toward smaller, more experimental companies, Swados’ legacy has paved the way for numerous artists on Broadway and beyond.center_img Liz Swados, how many people did you inspire? @Lin_Manuel @ShainaTaub we were those kids. We will do well by you this summer, as I promised.— Jeanine Tesori (@JeanineTesori) January 6, 2016 Liz Swados was using hip-hop on Broadway in 1978, ahead of EVERYBODY. A colossus, singular, unequaled.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) January 6, 2016last_img


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