From 1959 to 1979, Reed was the principal comedian of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which is dedicated to the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. With the company, he appeared often in the United States and around the world. In the 1980s, he frequently made guest appearanances with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players.
Among the roles he played in the Gilbert & Sullivan canon are the title character of The Sorcerer, Major-General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance; and the lord high executioner Ko-Ko in The Mikado. He also played this latter role in a 1967 film version of the piece.
Reed is survived by his companion of more than half a century, Nicholas Kerri.