Washington, DC-area director, playwright and educator Ronald T. O'Leary, 59, died Oct. 21 at Washington Hospital Center of complications from AIDS, according to colleague William V. Patterson.
A member of the University of Maryland (College Park, MD.) faculty since 1966, O'Leary taught courses in directing, musical theatre, and American theatre and directed more than 30 campus productions. Over the years his students included Lynn Wintersteller (OB's Closer Than Ever), Alan Mingo (Rent national tour), Steve Blanchard (Bway's Beauty and the Beast) and TV actress Mary Page Keller (Fox's "Duet").
Five of Dr. O'Leary's college productions, including two written by him, were honored with performances at the regional American College Theatre Festival. He was an associate professor of theatre at UM.
In 1992 he directed the world premiere of Quilt: A Musical Celebration as a co-production of the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with the 1992 International Display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt on the grounds of the Washington Monument.
According to friend and colleague William Patterson of the University of Maryland theatre department, Dr. O'Leary received a 1993 Helen Hayes Award nomination for outstanding direction of a resident musical for Closer Than Ever, produced by the Rose Organization. He also directed the long-running political satire Mrs. Foggybottom and Her Friends. His stagings were also seen at West End Dinner Theatre, Washington Jewish Theatre, National Players, the Smithsonian Institution and Very Special Arts at the Kennedy Center. Dr. O'Leary was also a 1997 Helen Hayes Award nominee for the Charles MacArthur Award for outstanding new play for They Never Said a Word, based on his interviews with lesbian, gay, and bisexual college students. The play premiered at the University of Maryland before moving to a commercial run in Washington, D.C.
A Washington-area resident for 32 years, Dr. O'Leary was born in Mansfield, OH. He held a Ph.D. in theatre and an M.F.A. in directing for theatre and television from the University of Wisconsin in Madison as well as an M.A. and a B.S. from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
At the University of Maryland, Dr. O'Leary directed Honky Tonks & Country Queens, They Never Said a Word, The Misanthrope, The Colored Museum, Quilt: A Musical Celebration, Bring Back Broadway, The School for Wives, A Flea in Her Ear, Working, Power: A Vaudeville, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, Evita, Side by Side by Sondheim, Cabaret, A Cry of Players, Hello, Dolly!, The Music Man, The Miser, Hello, I Love You!, Kicks & Kapers, The Glass Menagerie, Twelfth Night, Dark of the Moon, The Drummer I Must March To?, The Country Wife, The Gingerbread Lady, Showstoppers!, The Boy Friend, Company, Everybody's Doin' It!, Indians, Scapin, Father's Day, Shakespeare '70, Right On!, Richard III, Celebration!, Hotel Paradiso, Oklahoma!, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Ah, Wilderness!, and The Time of Your Life.
His theatre work also included writing, adapting, and directing some 30 special projects, consulting, adjudicating, and presenting more than 50 lectures, workshops, papers, and programs.
A scholarship has been established in his name.
-- By Kenneth Jones