Theater News

Producer Robert Fryer Dies at 79

Robert Fryer, a well-known producer of theater and film, died on Sunday, May 28 of complications from Parkinson’s Disease.

Fryer’s Broadway shows, which collectively won a total of 37 Tony Awards, include Mame, Sweeney Todd, Chicago, and On the Twentieth Century. His most recent Broadway credits were three plays by Michael Frayn: Benefactors, Noises Off, and Frayn’s adaptation of Chekhov’s Wild Honey. Fryer also produced such films as The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Travels With My Aunt (both starring Maggie Smith), The Boys from Brazil, The Voyage of the Damned, The Boston Strangler, and The Shining. He was working on a proposed film version of Chicago at the time of his death.

In his capacity as artistic director of the Ahmanson Theater from 1971 through 1989, Fryer brought to the Los Angeles stage such stars as Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison, Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, and Mary Martin. Five plays by Neil Simon (California Suite, Chapter Two, They’re Playing Our Song, Brighton Beach Memoirs, and Biloxi Blues) premiered at the Ahmanson under Fryer’s aegis. In all, he presented 71 major productions at the theater, including works by Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, and Lillian Hellman.

Fryer is survived by his sister, Eleanor Fryer Massell; two nephews, Roger and Douglas Massell; and one niece, Diane Massell. Memorial services on the both the East and West Coast are being planned.