Funeral Service, Saturday, December 6th at 2:00 p.m.,
Central United Church, 194 Avondale Avenue, Stratford, Ontario.
As posted in the Beacon Herald, December 1, 2014.
Brian Macdonald, the legendary director and choreographer behind some of theatre's most beloved musical productions, died at his Stratford home on Saturday at the age of 86.
Macdonald was born in Montreal in 1928 and is widely recognized as a pioneer in Canadian theatre. His talent and expertise were boundless and his productions were admired internationally.
His first introduction to the Stratford Festival came during the theatre's early days. In 1957 his satirical revue My Fur Lady played at what would become the Avon Theatre and then went on to tour 82 Canadian cities with more than 400 performances.
He would return to the Festival in later years and was a member of the company for 17 seasons. He left an indelible mark on the Festival with his fresh approach to several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas like The Mikado, HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance which also toured across Canada and in London and New York.
“At Stratford he will be especially remembered for reinventing the Gilbert and Sullivan canon,” said Antoni Cimolino, artistic director. “He brought an entirely new and contemporary approach to what, by the early 1980s, had become neglected classics. Under his inventive direction, the updated lyrics and movement sparkled with the same creative lustre as the iconic music. The result, like Brian himself, was unforgettable.”
During his 60-year career, Macdonald was honoured with many prestigious awards among them are the Order of Canada, of which he was one of the first recipients, a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, the Molson Prize, Paris International Gold Star for Choreography and Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.
Just last year, Macdonald was awarded a Bronze Star—a program established by Stratford city council in partnership with the Festival back in 2002 to recognize individuals who have contributed to the cultural or social fabric of the city.
Despite his many awards his humility remained intact.
“I was completely surprised. I'm very happy they thought of me,” he said after receiving the Bronze Star.
Macdonald's star is in front of the Avon Theatre.
He started his career as a child actor on CBC Radio and later moved to CBC TV as a dancer/ choreographer and began directing live variety shows.
Though he loved ballet an injury ended his dancing career. Regardless, he was a significant part of the Canadian and international ballet scenes. He was a founding member of the National Ballet of Canada and he was closely associated with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet throughout the 1950s and '60s. He headed up important ballet companies in Sweden, The United States and Israel.
Just this past October, though he had cancer, he directed a revival of his 1990 production of Madama Butterfly. It was the sixth time the Canadian Opera Company mounted his production.
His final public appearance was for the curtain calls on opening night.
Macdonald leaves behind his wife Annette av Paul whom he met at the Royal Swedish Ballet in the 1960s, and his son Wyatt. He was predeceased by his first wife Olivia Wyatt.
Macdonald's funeral will be held at W.G. Young Funeral home on Saturday. [Please note change of venue below.]
A memorial will be held at the Festival Theatre on May 3 and, fittingly, the 2015 production of Carousel, a play he once directed at the Festival, will be dedicated to his memory.
: Obituary posted at the W G Young website
: Funeral Service, Saturday, December 6th at 2:00 p.m., Central United Church, 194 Avondale Avenue, Stratford, Ontario.Memorial Donations
: PAL Stratford