Actress Patricia Neway, Tony Award Winner, Dies at 92

Obituaries   Actress Patricia Neway, Tony Award Winner, Dies at 92
Patricia Neway, who won the Tony Award for her role as the Mother Abbess in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music, died in Vermont on Jan. 24 of natural causes. She was 92.

As the wise Mother Abbess, counsel to the wavering postulant Maria, Ms. Neway got to sing the inspirational ballad "Climb Every Mountain" at the close of the first act. She also musically wondered, along with the other nuns, how to solve a problem like "Maria."

Ms. Neway's other Broadway credits, mainly in the operatic vein, included The Consul, La Vie Parisienne, The Rape of Lucretia and Maria Golovin.

Born Sept. 30, 1919, in Brooklyn, she studied singing at the Mannes College of Music and later with tenor Morris Gesell, whom she eventually married. A striking figure, standing six feet tall with strong angular facial features, she made her Broadway debut while still a student as a member of the chorus in a 1942 production of Jacques Offenbach's La Vie Parisienne.

In 1948, she returned to Broadway to portray the Female Chorus in Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia at the Ziegfeld Theatre. Two years later, Ms. Neway received rave reviews as Magda Sorel, a frustrated woman trying to get in to see a man about a visa, in the world premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti's Cold War-era opera The Consul, one of the few operas composed specifically for the theatre. The opera debuted at the Shubert Theatre in Philadelphia. The production then went to the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway, where it ran for 269 performances. Neway would also re-create her role in the original London and Paris productions and in a European tour.

In 1964, she performed the role of Lady Thiang in The King and I at Lincoln Center. Most of her work, though, was in the opera, and she sang at such houses and festivals as Opéra-Comique, in Paris; Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy; and the San Francisco Opera. Ms. Neway sang in numerous productions at the New York City Opera, including the debut of Six Characters in Search of an Author, sharing the stage with Beverly Sills.

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