Former Artistic Director Of Cleveland Play House Passes Away

CLEVELAND (AP) - Former Cleveland Play House artistic director Josephine R. Abady died in her apartment in New York after a six-year struggle with cancer.

Abady died Saturday at the age of 52, The Plain Dealer reported Wednesday. Her funeral was Tuesday at Hevreh Synagogue in Great Barrington, Mass.

She was the artistic director of Cleveland Play House from 1988 until 1994.

While there, Abady disbanded the long-standing resident company in favor of recruiting actors from New York. Her first directing assignment was a revival of "Born Yesterday" starring Ed Asner and Madeline Kahn, which went on a national tour and to Broadway.

"The Abady years, from an artistic point of view, were the best the Play House has had in the past several decades," said Richard Hahn, a Play House trustee.

The Play House's board in 1994 decided not to renew Abady's contract.

After Cleveland, Abady won an appointment to the leadership of Circle in the Square, a nonprofit Broadway house that declared bankruptcy in 1996. In New York, Abady was nominated for a Tony Award as producer of "The Rose Tattoo."

"She had uncompromising artistic aspirations from which she would not back down," said Ben Cameron, executive director of Theatre Communications Group, a New York trade organization for the nation's nonprofit theaters.

Abady, a native of Richmond, Va., earned her undergraduate degree from Syracuse University in 1971. She received a master's degree in 1973 from Florida State University's Asolo Theatre and directed Christine Lahti in "The House of Blue Leaves."

Abady taught at two New England colleges before becoming artistic director of the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass., which she led from 1979 to 1988.

She is survived by her husband, Michael Krawitz, brother, Samuel A. Abady, and sister, Caroline Aaron.

A memorial service is planned in New York for Aug. 21.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)