Rusty Magee

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Rusty Magee
Magee in June 2000
Born August 6, 1955
Washington, D.C., USA
Died February 16, 2003 (aged 47)
New York City, New York, USA

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]

He was born at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. and attended Angell Elementary School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He graduated from Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1970; Attended one year in Lycée Alphonse Daudet in Nîmes, France, which made him fluent in French; and 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. He was an avid Detroit Tigers fan, which inspired his musical 1919: A Baseball Opera.


Rusty 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, with book by Charles Busch, was produced by The Manhattan Theatre Club, and is published by Samuel French. His children’s Christmas opera, Flurry Tale, with libretto by Billy Aronson, has been produced by American Opera Projects/Family Opera Initiative in New York City. He wrote the music and lyrics for ART's production of Carlo Goldoni's Servant of Two Masters and Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid.

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. He wrote the music for Moonwork's production of What You Will, an adaptation of Twelfth Night, and for Moonwork's acclaimed version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He wrote the theme music for the CBS-Television pilot "Family Brood". His song, "Road To Victory" (co-written with longtime collaborator Bob Golden), was featured in the documentary film New School Order.

As an actor, Rusty appeared in the 1986 Woody Allen film, Hannah and Her Sisters (which also featured Lewis Black) as well as onstage in Frank McCourt's The Irish… and How They Got That Way at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City and the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. He was Music Director of the Irish Repertory Theatre (Manhattan) and continued in that role even after his illness was diagnosed. He played the piano at the annual Irish Repertory Theatre Gala which included accompanying Frank McCourt and the singers of the Irish and the American National Anthems.

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 songs have been recorded by such renowned theatre artists as Rebecca Luker, Judy Kuhn, Mary Testa, Pattie D'Arcy and his cabaret anthem, “New York Romance”, was performed at Carnegie Hall by his wife, Alison Fraser.


In 1984 he married Alison Fraser; their son, Nathaniel, was born in April 1990.

Rusty Magee died of colon cancer, aged 47. A memorial service and celebration of his life was held at Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York City. A memorial service was later held in his native Ann Arbor on July 26, 2003, where he was interred at Forest Hills Cemetery.

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 (Manhattan) where professionals do theatre outreach with local children.[citation needed]

A YouTube channel devoted to Magee's life and career was launched on August 6 of 2013 (Magee's birthday) <1 />


External links[edit]