Jacques Levy

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Jacques Lèvy
Born (1935-07-29)July 29, 1935
New York City, New York, United States
Died September 30, 2004(2004-09-30) (aged 69)
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation(s) theatre director, songwriter
Associated acts Roger McGuinn
Bob Dylan

Jacques Levy (29 July 1935 – 30 September 2004) was an American songwriter, theatre director, and clinical psychologist.

Early life and education[edit]

Levy was born in New York City in 1935 and graduated from the City College of New York in 1956. He then received his M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from Michigan State University in 1958 and 1961. Levy was a trained psychoanalyst, certified by the Menninger Institute for Psychoanalysis in Topeka, Kansas. He later returned to New York and became a clinical psychologist.


In 1965, Levy directed Sam Shepard's play Red Cross at the Judson Poets Theater, New York City.[1] The following year he directed two of the short plays in Jean-Claude van Itallie's America Hurrah.[2] In 1969, Levy directed the off-Broadway erotic revue Oh! Calcutta!.[3] [4]

Levy approached Roger McGuinn of The Byrds to collaborate on Gene Tryp, a project inspired by Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt. The musical stalled, but one song, "Chestnut Mare," co-written by McGuinn and Levy, became the single released from the album (Untitled) in 1970. Although it only peaked at #121 in the United States, the song became an enduring FM radio staple.[5] Many further Levy-McGuinn songs appeared on Byrds and McGuinn albums during the 1970s. In 1973, Levy and Van Itallie reunited for Mystery Play, which starred Judd Hirsch and ran for 14 performances off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre.[6]

In the mid-seventies, Levy met Bob Dylan through McGuinn. Shortly after, the two collaborated on "Isis" and another six songs which appeared on Dylan's 1976 album Desire. These included "Hurricane" about imprisoned boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, and "Joey" about the mafia gangster and hit man, Joe Gallo. In 1975, Levy directed Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue. Levy's lyrics also entered the repertoires of Joe Cocker, Crystal Gayle, and Carly Simon.

Levy also had several achievements in drama. In 1980 he staged Stephen Poliakoff's play American Days at Manhattan Theatre Club, which featured David Blue, one of the performers in the Rolling Thunder Revue. Frank Rich in his review for The New York Times wrote: "Jacques Levy, the director, matches the crackling energy of the text blow for blow."[7] In 1983 he staged Doonesbury: A Musical Comedy, based on the comic strip Doonesbury on Broadway.[8] In 1988 he provided the lyrics for the stage musical of the film Fame. Later came Marat/Sade (1994), Bus Stop (1997), and Brecht on Brecht (2000, in New York City)[9]


From 1993 until his death from cancer in 2004, he was an English professor and director of theater at Colgate University in upstate New York. He had two children, Maya and Julien, with his wife Claudia.

Theatrical credits[edit]


Note: Fame, the stage musical, was not presented on Broadway, but has been playing in London's West End since 1995.

Off Broadway
  • America Hurrah (1966) – play – director – Pocket Theatre – American premiere
  • Mystery Play (1973) – play – director – Cherry Lane Theatre – American premiere
  • American Days (1980) – play – director – Manhattan Theatre Club – American premiere
  • TRYP (2005) – play – dramaturge


  1. ^ Red Cross samshepard.com, accessed August 21, 2015
  2. ^ America Hurrah lortel.org, accessed August 21, 2015
  3. ^ Oh! Calcutta! lortel.org, accessed August 21, 2015
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth and Simonson, Robert. "Jacques Levy, Director of Broadway's Oh! Calcutta! and Doonesbury, Dead at 69", Playbill, October 4, 2004
  5. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/song/chestnut-mare-mt0035043185
  6. ^ Mystery Play lortel.org, accessed August 21, 2013
  7. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage: American days a British Comedy" New York Times, January 2, 2981
  8. ^ a b "Jacques Levy Broadway" playbillvault, accessed August 21, 2015
  9. ^ Brecht on Brecht theatermania.com, accessed August 21, 2015

External links[edit]