Broadway producer and former actress-dancer Betsy Friday, who shepherded a concert act known as "The Broadway Tenors," died at The New York Hospital/Cornell University Medical Center July 16 as a result of complications from a bone marrow transplant.
The former dancer and actress ran the Betsy Friday Company, a producer of theatrical and fundraising events. She was a producer of "The Broadway Tenors," made up of various musical theatre artists who play regional and Manhattan concerts in different combinations. Her partner in the project was tenor Brent Barrett, of Chicago and Kiss Me, Kate. Other tenors of the group include Alan Campbell, Hugh Panaro, Brian d'Arcy James, Sal Viviano, Sean McDermott, Jonathan Dokuchitz and Stephen Bogardus.
As a fund-raising consultant, she worked with the North Carolina School of the Arts; The University of North Carolina; Georgetown University; London's Almeida Theatre Company; The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative; Santa Clara University; North Carolina State University; and, the New York's Professional Children's School, where she also served for two years as director of development, public relations and special events.
She was a committee member of Fund for New American Plays at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
She also produced and/or directed numerous theatrical events. In 1998 she was responsible for the "Georgetownforever" Gala, launching a $1 billion capital campaign for Georgetown University and was an associate producer supervising the creative team for The Lost Colony, America's oldest outdoor drama in Manteo, NC. In 1999, she directed Horton Foote's Laura Dennis for the Actors Repertory Company in Washington, DC; the Nothin' Like a Dame benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; The Fred Astaire Centennial for the Theatre Development Fund; and, The 40th Anniversary Gala for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Ms. Friday, 44, was born and raised in Chapel Hill, NC. She received a BFA in ballet and modern dance from the North Carolina School of the Arts and would work in dance, theatre, film and television as a performer, director, producer and fund-raiser.
Her Broadway acting credits include She Loves Me, The Secret Garden, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Bring Back Birdie. As a dancer, she apprenticed with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and was a member of the Pauline Koner Dance Consort and the Danny Buraczeski Dance Company. Ms. Friday also appeared in many commercials.
Beginning in 1983, Ms. Friday spent seven years as an assistant to the Broadway producer and director Joe Layton. From 1990-1994 she was a resident director with the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art, Washington DC.
As president of her privately-held independent theatrical investment company which was an associate producer of the Broadway companies of Hamlet starring Ralph Fiennes; How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying starring Matthew Broderick; and, the Australian production of The Secret Garden Other Broadway productions the company was associated with include Footloose; the Tony Award winning Titanic; The King and I starring Lou Diamond Phillips; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starring Nathan Lane; Once Upon a Mattress starring Sarah Jessica Parker; and, The Who's Tommy (as well as the national touring and Canadian companies).
Ms. Friday is survived by her parents, former President of the University of North Carolina William C. Friday, and Ida H. Friday of Chapel Hill, NC; sister, Mary Leadbetter and her husband Jon Leadbetter of London, England; and sister Fran Friday and her husband, Jack Mullen; a niece, Miranda Mullen; and a nephew, Walker Mullen, all of Chapel Hill; and Harry, her Jack Russell terrier.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The North Carolina School of the Arts, The Betsy Friday Scholarship Fund, 1533 South Main Street, Winston Salem, NC 27127-2188, Attn: Bill Porter; or The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of The Actors' Fund, in honor of Betsy Friday, c/o The Actors' Fund, 729 Seventh Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
A memorial service will be held in New York at a later date.