Rusty Magee

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Rusty Magee
Magee in June 2000
Born August 6, 1955
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Died February 16, 2003 (aged 47)
New York City, New York, U.S.

Benjamin Rush "Rusty" Magee (August 6, 1955 – February 16, 2003) was an accomplished comedian, actor and composer/lyricist for theatre, television, film and commercials.[1]


Early life[edit]

Born in Washington, D.C., Magee attended Angell Elementary School in Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated from Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1970. He attended one year in Lycée Alphonse Daudet in Nîmes and at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1973. He received his bachelor's degree in music at Brown University in 1978 and was awarded an honorary Masters of Fine Arts. from the Yale School of Drama after working there for three years as Musical Consultant for the Yale Repertory Theatre and the Yale School of Drama.[citation needed]


Magee then moved to New York where he became an accomplished composer and lyricist for theatre, television, and film and commercials as well as a beloved comedian. In 1993, he won the New York James Fleetwood Outer Critics Circle Award for his music and lyrics for Molière's Scapin (starring Stanley Tucci). This adaptation has been produced at CSC Repertory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, the Intiman Playhouse in Seattle, the Court in Chicago, and American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. His full length musical The Green Heart was produced by The Manhattan Theatre Club, and is published by Samuel French. He wrote the music and lyrics for ART's production of Carlo Goldoni's Servant of Two Masters and Molière's The Imaginary Invalid.[citation needed]

He arranged and performed the music for the Tony Award-winning production of The House of Blue Leaves at Lincoln Center and on Broadway and PBS. Magee co-produced and wrote the music for hundreds of one-act plays as Musical Director and co-founder with comedian Lewis Black and Rand Foerster of Steve Olsen's West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theatre Bar in New York City. Magee was Music Director of the Irish Repertory Theatre (Manhattan) and continued in that role after his illness was diagnosed. He played the piano at the annual Irish Repertory Theatre Gala. His last musical, 19th Street Shuffle, co- written with Billy Aronson, was to have been finished with additional material added by Lynn Shenkel, under the direction of Sheryl Kaller. His cabaret anthem, "New York Romance", was performed at Carnegie Hall by his wife, Alison Fraser.[citation needed]


In 1984, he wed Alison Fraser; the couple had one son, Nathaniel.[citation needed]


Rusty Magee died of colon cancer, aged 47. A memorial service was later held in his native Ann Arbor on July 26, 2003, where he was interred at Forest Hills Cemetery.[citation needed]

Accolades and Affiliations[edit]

He belonged to Actors' Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA and ASCAP. In 2000, Magee was awarded the "Coming Up Taller" Humanitarian Award from then-First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House for his work at the 52nd St. Project, a theatre company in Hell's Kitchen.[citation needed]


External links[edit]