Sondheim Favorite Barbara Bryne Passes Away at 94 | Playbill

Obituaries Sondheim Favorite Barbara Bryne Passes Away at 94

Ms. Bryne was a part of the original Broadway companies of Sunday in the Park with George and Into The Woods.

Barbara Bryne

British born Shakespeare and Sondheim favorite Barbara Bryne passed away May 2. She was 94. The news was confirmed by a representative of Minnesota's Guthrie Theatre, where Bryne performed several times.

Born April 1, 1929, Ms. Bryne trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts before emmigrating to Canada in the early 1960s. Once in North America, she became a regular fixture of Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival and at Minneapolis, Minnesota's Guthrie Theater, performing in a wide range of Shakespearean productions, including starring roles in King Lear, Richard III, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and more. 

On Broadway, however, she became a Sondheim favorite, originating two maternal roles: George's mother in Sunday in the Park with George, and Jack's Mother in Into The Woods. On the regional circuit, she completed the Sondheim Maternal triple crown, playing Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at the Kennedy Center in 2002.

In 1982, Ms. Bryne was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for an Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her role as Kath in the first American production of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr. Sloane. In 2011, she appeared as Queen Victoria in H.M.S. Pinafore, which was filmed for PBS in late August 2011. On screen, she appeared in the 1993 adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, AmadeusThe Bostonians, The Neverending Story, and The School for Scandal. Her onstage work on Into The Woods and Sunday in the Park With George was also preserved in recorded performances that were later broadcast on PBS.

Following 2012, Ms. Bryne retired from public performance, with her final Broadway appearance being in the most recent revival of Noël Coward comedy Hay Fever, opposite Rosemary Harris.

Ms. Bryne is predeceased by her husband of 65 years, Dennis Spence, who passed in 2018. She is survived by their daughter, Susan.

A Look Back at the Original Broadway Production of Into the Woods

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