By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson
25 Aug 2011
|Photo by Aubrey Reuben|
Wreghitt, 55, a theatrical producer known for bringing innovative dramatic work to Broadway and Off-Broadway stages, among them several of the works of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, died in a hospital in Hoboken, NJ.
Wreghitt won a Tony Award nomination for his initial Broadway effort, the transfer from the Atlantic Theatre Company to the Walter Kerr Theatre of McDonagh's bloody, romantic, gothic and hilarious tale of a mother-daughter rivalry The Beauty Queen of Leenane. The play ran for a year and earned plaudits galore from critics, who hailed the New York arrival of the young writer. The production also established a career-long relationship between the producer and writer. Mr. Wreghitt went on to produce McDonagh's The Lonesome West and The Lieutenant of Inishmore to Broadway. Neither did as well as Beauty Queen, but each was nominated for a Tony.
Other Broadway productions included a gritty 1998 rendition of Electra starring Zoe Wanamaker; Band in Berlin, a curious documentary-like work about a singing group victimized in Nazi Germany; a 2001 revival of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler starring Kate Burton; an unsuccessful musical version of Little Women in 2005 (it has since blossomed in regional theatre); a polished British revival of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing which introduced Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle to the U.S. (both won Tony Awards); and a Steppenwolf Theatre Company staging of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which won a Tony for Best Revival of a Play. His final two Broadway projects, Impressionism starring Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen, and a revival of The Miracle Worker, closed quickly.
Off-Broadway productions included The Waverly Gallery by Kenneth Lonergan, which featured the final stage performance of Eileen Heckert; As Bees in Honey Drown, the comedy which established Douglas Carter Beane's reputation as a comic playwright; a hit revival of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band; The Food Chain, playwright Nicky Silver's most noted commercial success to date; Mark St. Germain's Camping With Henry and Tom. He was the associate producer of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Three Tall Women.
On London's West End, he produced Lonergan's The Lobby Hero and Crowley's The Boys in the Band.
Wreghitt, a journalism major at Iowa State University, began his career in marketing. He was senior marketing representative at Walt Disney World from 1987 to 1990. He left that position to become director of marketing for the Big Apple Circus. The Iowa native was so proud of his homestate that he named his first production company Iowa Boy Productions.
In 1996, he won the Robert Whitehead Award for "outstanding achievement in commercial theatrical producing." At the time of his death, he was busy shepherding several projects, including Talley's Folly, Aesop & Company, The Great Game and the musical Pure Country.
He is survived by his mother Leona Wreghitt and sister Sherri Wreghitt.
For more information, visit www.randallwreghitt.com.