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Gary Beach, Who Played Roger De Bris in The Producers, Dies at 70

Beach won a Tony for his performance in the Mel Brooks musical.

Gary Beach has died at the age of 70.
(© Tristan Fuge)

Gary Beach, the longtime Broadway vet who won a Tony for playing Roger De Bris in The Producers, has died at the age of 70.

Born in Alexandria, Virginia, on October 10, 1947, Beach graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts. He made his Broadway debut as an understudy during the original run of 1776. His additional Broadway credits include Annie, Doonesbury, the 2004 revival of La Cage aux Folles, for which he received a Tony nomination, and the 2006 revival of Les Misérables.

Beach's biggest Broadway roles came in 1994 and 2001. He originated the role of Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast and received a Tony nomination. He went on to win a Tony for his portrayal of the flamboyant, crossdressing theatrical director Roger De Bris in the Mel Brooks-Thomas Meehan musical The Producers. Beach also played the role in the 2005 film remake and across the country on tour.

Onscreen, Beach was seen on Queer as Folk, Cheers, Arli$$, and Saved by the Bell, where he played fraudster class ring salesman Gem Diamond, and he voiced the role of Dale in the banned-from-television Family Guy episode "Partial Terms of Endearment."

Of his experience with The Producers, he told TheaterMania in 2001, "I've been in the kind of shows that run one night and long runs, but this is a phenomenon. If you're an actor and you can't enjoy an experience like this, you should look for another career."

Beach is survived by his husband, Jeffrey Barnett.

Roger Bart, Gary Beach, Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Angie Schworer, and John Treacy Egan take their curtain call during The Producers in 2003.
(© Joseph Marzullo)
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