The New York Post reported Aug. 3 that the July 21 death of Broadway actor Steve Barton in Bremen, Germany has been ruled a suicide by the district attorney there.
Barton's death was previously attributed to heart failure, according to obituary information released by the press office for the New York production of The Phantom of the Opera, the musical for which Barton may be best known. He also found great success on European stages in his career.
The 47-year-old American actor-singer originated the role of Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera in London and also sang it — and, eventually, the title role — on Broadway. Michael Riedel of The Post reported Barton died in his home in Stonegate, a suburb of Bremen. The method of suicide was not disclosed by German officials. By late July, members of the New York theatre community had heard that Barton's death was by suicide.
Barton's publicist and manager, Michael Staringer, was quoted in The Post saying that Barton's substance abuse problems were "under control." Barton was to take on the role of Jason in the fall staging of the non musical Greek classic, Medea, at Pittsburgh Public Theater.
* Barton is heard as the romantic lead, Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, on the original London cast album of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. He played the role on the West End and on Broadway and would eventually graduate to play the fourth Phantom on Broadway (March 19 Dec. 1, 1990). He also covered the lead in Los Angeles briefly. His college-sweetheart wife, Phantom production dance supervisor Denny Berry, survives him. Recent credits include the lead role of Count von Krolock in the European world premiere of Jim Steinman and Roman Polanski's Dance of the Vampires (Tanz der Vampire). He is also heard on a cast album of that aborning show. He also played Bellini in Jones and Schmidt's Mirette at Goodspeed Opera House and was Boris Lermontov in Jule Styne's The Red Shoes on Broadway. He was the Beast in the European premiere of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
His 1988 Playbill bio stated that he was an Arkansas native but a "naturalized Texan" who attended the University of Texas as a multi scholarship student, where he appeared in over 30 production before moving to Switzerland to join the Stadt Theater St. Gallen with wife Berry, a choreographer. They have one son, Edward.
Barton appeared as Munkustrap in Cats in Vienna, as Magaldi in Hal Prince's production of Evita in Munich, and in Jesus Christ Superstar in Vienna and Berlin.
His varied work in the U.S. and Europe — TV, concerts, Brecht-Weill revivals, plays, readings, smash musicals — inspired his followers to create international fan clubs and websites.
Among his credits, he played Fred in Kiss Me, Kate at Goodspeed Opera House in 1994, and workshopped Let's Do It!, a new A.R. Gurney tuner with Cole Porter songs at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT, in 1996.
He is heard on John McGlinn's Show Boat studio cast album, with Teresa Stratas, and on various demos and recordings (including Tupelo, a new Elvis-inspired show). Barton also appeared on TV soaps "The Young and the Restless" and "Another World."
Barton received the IMAGE Award, the European theatrical honor equal to the Tony Award in the U.S.
One of his proudest accomplishments was said to be the recording called, "Living Water," produced for charity. He wrote the lyrics for five of the album's 12 songs and performed one of the songs accompanied by the voice of Mother Teresa. Barton and wife Denny have a presidential scholarship named for them at UT. In addition to Berry, Barton is survived by a brother, Tom Barton of Nederland, TX, and a sister, Betty Barton Gambrell, also of Nederland.