Tony Church, Shakespearean Actor Who Worked with RSC and Denver Center, Dead at 77

Obituaries   Tony Church, Shakespearean Actor Who Worked with RSC and Denver Center, Dead at 77
James Anthony Church, a British actor who spent three decades with the Royal Shakespeare Company before taking a post at the Denver Center Theatre Company, died in a nursing home in London on March 25, Denver Center announced. He was 77.
Tony Church
Tony Church

Mr. Church, known as Tony, went to Cambridge University with Peter Hall, and appeared in Hall's first professional production in 1953, Pirandello's Henry IV at the Arts Theatre in London. When Hall started setting up the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960, Mr. Church joined him as a founding member. He remained a regular performer with the company until 1987, taking leading parts in the Peter Brook-directed King Lear, The Comedy of Errors, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest, among many other shows. He was directed by such talents as Terry Hands, David Jones, Franco Zeffirelli, Trevor Nunn, John Barton, Peter Wood, and Howard Davies. Mr. Church founded and ran the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, from 1967 to 1971. He was appointed Director of Drama at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1982. He left to assume a leadership post with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in 1989.

According to Donald R. Seawell, chairman emeritus of The Denver Center, "I was asked by the National Endowment for Education to bring to America an RSC play which they would finance provided the stars taught at a college or university in the city where the play ran. The RSC agreed and Tony was one of the stars. He taught at Denver University when the play was in Denver. The heads of the University were so delighted with his work that they asked him to stay on and gave him an honorary doctorate."

With the formation of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Mr. Church put in 14 seasons as a member of the Denver Center Theatre Company's acting troupe, and became dean of the National Theatre Conservatory from 1989 to 1996.

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