Jim Wise (composer)

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Jim Wise (April 24, 1919 – November 13, 2000) was an American musical composer, English professor and best known for the play Dames at Sea, as well as his contributions to the New Jersey Institute of Technology's Theater.[1]

Early life[edit]

Wise was born in Akron, Ohio in 1919 as James Newton Wise. After graduating from Wooster College in 1941 with a degree in Classical Languages, he served in the Army’s Public Relations Division during World War II. He began his M.A. in English at Columbia University upon returning to the U.S. in 1946. Wise completed his M.A. in 1948 and taught with Columbia’s School of General Studies from 1950–1952.


He began working at Newark College of Engineering (now known as New Jersey Institute of Technology[2]) in 1955, where he taught English composition until his retirement in 1989.

In May 1966, Dames at Sea opened in Manhattan’s off-off-Broadway Café Cino, located in Greenwich Village, under the title Dames at Sea or Golddiggers Afloat. A parody of musicals from the 1920s and 1930s, Dames at Sea starred newcomer Bernadette Peters as “Ruby,” and is how the actress got her start. The musical re-opened under the title Dames at Sea in the Off-Broadway Bouwerie Lane Theatre on December 20, 1968 and then transferred to the Theatre De Lys on April 22, 1969, where it played until its closing on May 10, 1970, with a total of 575 performances. Dames was revived at Manhattan’s Lamb’s Theatre in 1985, and then at NJIT in 1989.

In 1988 Jim Wise founded the Allardice-Wise Scholarship at Wooster College [3] in memory of his friend and classmate James B. Allardice. The scholarship continues to be awarded, on the basis of a competitive audition, to a senior Theatre major who has demonstrated exceptional talent and interest in theatre. During his lifetime, Wise sat in on the auditions and helped pick the scholars. Jim Wise wrote the musical Yankee Ingenuity in 1976, and the children's musical Olaf, with Don Price, in 1997.


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