Tony Montanaro (1927-2002) was one of the great mime artists of the 20th century.
Born in Paulsboro, New Jersey on September 10, 1927, Montanaro earned a theater degree from Columbia University and began performing stock theater with actors such as Jason Robards and Jackie Cooper. After seeing Marcel Marceau's historic 1956 performance at New York's Phoenix Theatre, Montanaro flew to Paris to study under Marceau and Marceau's teacher, Etienne Decroux.
Montanaro had a long career of rave-review performances in Europe and the United States. He designed and hosted the award-winning CBS-TV children's show, "Pretendo". After performing and teaching around the world, Montanaro journeyed to another Paris -- South Paris, Maine. There, in 1972, Montanaro founded the Celebration Barn, a world-renowned theater/school of mime, improvisation, storytelling and other performing skills.
The Celebration Barn Theater became a mecca for performers who came from around the world to study with this man who was redefining mime and theater. From Celebration Barn, generations of mimes, physical comedians, storytellers, and actors, guided by Montanaro's genius, have gone on to careers in television, film and theater. Puppeteers with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, writers for Between the Lions, the host of Hollywood Squares, and performers in Cirque du Soleil are just a few of the Celebration alumni who were influenced by Montanaro.
In recent years, Montanaro continued to teach and direct at the Celebration Barn and at the renovated home and studios of he and his wife, Karen Hurll Montanaro in Casco, Maine. The couple also toured widely with their two-person show, The Montanaro-Hurll Theatre of Mime and Dance. In 1995, the Montanaros authored Mime Spoken Here: The Performer's Portable Workshop, a guide to the craft of mime, character work, and improvisation, and a pair of accompanying instructional videos.
Tony Montanaro, internationally acclaimed mime artist, director and teacher, died at his home in Casco, on Friday, December 13, 2002.
In 2004, thirty eight performers, all past students, came together for a series of tribute concerts in a dynamic and fun filled homage to their teacher. A 2006 film, Theatre & Inspiration, celebrates his life and contributions to the world of theatre.