Barbara Bryne, the British actress who played mothers in Stephen Sondheim’s original Broadway productions Sunday in the park with George And In the woods, has passed away. She turned 94.
Bryne’s death was Tuesday announced by the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. The first of her more than 60 plays was there Arsenic and old lace in 1970, and she appeared in over 20 productions from 1998-2013, including a memorable role in 1999 as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.
“Barbara was a beloved member of the Guthrie family,” theater representatives said in a statement, “and we are grateful to have shared her artistry with us for so many seasons. Her legacy will live on forever in the Guthrie and in our hearts.
The delightful Bryne was nominated for a 1982 Drama Desk Award for her off-off-Broadway performance as Kath in a revival of the Joe Orton-written Entertaining Mr. Sloane. Three years later, she starred with Rosemary Harris in a Broadway revival of Noël Coward’s family comedy Hay fever.
She played George’s mother alongside Mandy Patinkin Sunday in the park with George in 1984-85 — they sang the wistful “Beautiful” together — and Jack’s mother was opposite Ben Wright and Bernadette Peters in In the woodswhich premiered in 1987.
And at the Kennedy Center in 2002, she was another Sondheim matriarch, Madame Armfeldt, in A little night music.
Born in London on April 1, 1929, Bryne trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and from 1966 took on more than 30 roles at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada.
For television, Bryne portrayed nosy neighbor Mrs. Gaffey in the 1981-83 NBC sitcom Love, Sidneystarring Tony Randall, and provided the voice of the leprechaun Urgl in the 1995-1996 HBO animated series The story without end.
Her film resume included roles in Milos Forman’s Amadeus – as Mozart’s mother-in-law – and James Ivory’s The Bostoniansboth released in 1984.
Survivors include her daughter, Susan. Her husband of 65 years, Denny Spence, passed away in January 2018 at the age of 88.