Ms. Frelich, who was deaf, passed away from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) in April. She was 70.
“Phyllis was a beloved figure within the deaf community, and it felt appropriate that we host a service,” said Deaf West Theatre artistic director David J. Kurs in a statement. “She starred in our inaugural production of The Gin Game in 1990 and figured in our productions numerous times over the years. In addition to her many starring roles, she directed, taught acting, and was for many years an activist for equal access for all deaf performers.”
Ms. Frelich is perhaps best remembered for her groundbreaking role as a deaf woman in a relationship with a hearing man in Children of a Lesser God by Mark Medoff. Inspired by Ms. Frelich’s real-life marriage to scenic designer Robert Steinberg, the play received the 1980 Tony Award for Best Play, and Ms. Frelich and co-star John Rubinstein captured Tonys for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively.
“Phyllis loved every aspect of theater,” Steinberg said. “When she wasn't acting or directing (and sometimes even when she was), she'd happily do props, dress the set, sew curtains, upholster furniture, paint the set or do whatever else might be needed to help out. She was never too proud to get dirty and worked on many of my sets for Deaf West and others.”
Medoff and Rubinstein are both scheduled to speak at the memorial, along with actress Linda Bove ("Sesame Street"); Deaf West Theatre founding artistic director Ed Waterstreet; and Bernard Bragg, who played an instrumental role in the founding of the National Theatre of the Deaf. The service is open to the public. The Mark Taper Forum is located at 135 N. Grand Ave. in downtown Los Angeles, 90012. To request more information, email [email protected]