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Des Mcanuff

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: June 19, 1952 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Princeton, Illinois, USA Profession: director, artistic director, producer, playwright, composer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Two-time Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff grew up in Canada and moved to NYC in the mid-1970s, co-founding the Dodger Theatre Company and directing their first production "Gimme Shelter" in 1978. His production of "The Death of Von Richthofen as Witnessed From Earth" (1982), complete with special effects like a flying piano, got him tagged a "wunderkind" in Newsweek and convinced La Jolla Playhouse board members to hire him as artistic director. During his tenure at La Jolla, he directed four shows that he eventually brought to Broadway, beginning with "Big River" (1985), Roger Miller's musical version of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", and followed by Lee Blessing's "A Walk in the Woods" (1988), "The Who's 'Tommy'" (1993) and the revisal of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (1995). He received his first film credit as director of the "Henry V" theatrical unit for Penny Marshall's "Renaissance Man" (1994) and finally made his feature directorial debut with the 19th Century period piece "Cousin Bette" (1998), adapted from Honore Balzac's novel "La Cousin Bette". McAnuff produced the animated "Iron Giant" (1999) based on the Ted Hughes novel "Iron Giant: A Story in Five...

Two-time Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff grew up in Canada and moved to NYC in the mid-1970s, co-founding the Dodger Theatre Company and directing their first production "Gimme Shelter" in 1978. His production of "The Death of Von Richthofen as Witnessed From Earth" (1982), complete with special effects like a flying piano, got him tagged a "wunderkind" in Newsweek and convinced La Jolla Playhouse board members to hire him as artistic director. During his tenure at La Jolla, he directed four shows that he eventually brought to Broadway, beginning with "Big River" (1985), Roger Miller's musical version of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", and followed by Lee Blessing's "A Walk in the Woods" (1988), "The Who's 'Tommy'" (1993) and the revisal of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (1995). He received his first film credit as director of the "Henry V" theatrical unit for Penny Marshall's "Renaissance Man" (1994) and finally made his feature directorial debut with the 19th Century period piece "Cousin Bette" (1998), adapted from Honore Balzac's novel "La Cousin Bette". McAnuff produced the animated "Iron Giant" (1999) based on the Ted Hughes novel "Iron Giant: A Story in Five Nights" before working on his own live-action/animated feature, "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" (2000).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Cousin Bette (1998) Director
3.
  Renaissance Man (1994) Director (Henry V Theatrical Unit)
4.
5.
  Walk in the Woods, A (1989) Stage Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Family was living in Buda, Illinois when McAnuff's father was killed in a car accident
:
Raised and educated in Toronto, Canada
1964:
Began composing music (date approximate)
1969:
While still in high school, wrote and directed "Urbania", a 26-song musical
:
Dropped out of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute; worked in local theater; served as assistant artistic director at the Toronto Free Theater
:
Began career as a playwright and TV writer in Canada
1975:
Moved to NYC at age 23 (date approximate)
1977:
Directed "The Crazy Locomotive" at two NYC venues
1978:
Co-founded Dodger Theatre Company, NYC; directed company's first production "Gimme Shelter"
1979:
Wrote, directed and composed music for "Leave It To Beaver Is Dead" at NYC's Public Theater
1982:
Wrote, directed and composed music for "The Death of Von Richthofen as Witnessed from Earth" at Public Theater
1983:
Became artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, California
1985:
Broadway directorial debut, "Big River", a musical version of "Huckleberry Finn"; show received seven Tony Awards, including one for Best Director (Musical)
1986:
Staged world premiere of Lee Blessing's "A Walk in the Woods" at La Jolla Playhouse (restaged it at Yale Repertory Theatre in 1987 and on Broadway in 1988)
1993:
Brought The Who's "Tommy" from La Jolla Playhouse to Broadway, winning his second Tony as Best Director (Musical)
1994:
Stepped down as artistic director at La Jolla, becoming its director-in-residence instead
1994:
Made short film "Bad Dates"
1994:
Abandoned plans to make feature directing debut with a biopic of James Dean to star Leonardo DiCaprio; cited conflict with theater commitments
1994:
First feature film credit as director of "Henry V" theatrical unit for Penny Marshall's "Renaissance Man"
:
Finished first movie, the short "Bad Dates", starring Nancy Travis as a kindergarten teacher who is unlucky in dating
1995:
Directed Broadway revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (debuted in La Jolla)
1998:
Reportedly did uncredited doctoring on the Broadway musical "High Society"
1998:
Feature film directorial debut, "Cousin Bette"
2000:
Helmed second feature, a combined live-action animated version of "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Ryerson Polytechnical University: Toronto , Ontario -

Notes

McAnuff won Soho Arts Awards for "Gimme Shelter" (Best Director) and "Leave It To Beaver Is Dead" (Best Off-Broadway Play). He received a Villager Award for Best Direction and a Rockefeller grant for "The Death of Von Richthofen as Witnessed From Earth".

About stepping down as artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse: "It isn't so much that I didn't enjoy the job, but if you're going to do it well, you have to be around. We have always been hands-on producers, and when you're standing behind not only your own work but maybe the work of four or five other directors in the course of a season, it requires a lot of time and energy . . ."

"I actually had this job for considerably longer than I intended. I'm really proud of this theater and its accomplishments, but I'm glad to have my freedom. It's really great to have my wings back." --Des McAnuff to Los Angeles Times, October 30, 1994.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Susan Berman. Actor. Born c. 1956; together since 1978; married on La Jolla Playhouse stage on January 1, 1984.

Family close complete family listing

father:
William McAnuff. Veterinarian. Canadian; of Irish descent; served in WWII as a fighter pilot; died on December 15, 1951 from injuries sustained in a car accident at age 26.
mother:
Ellen Boyd. Canadian; was pregnant with McAnuff at the time of his father's death; remarried and moved back to Canada.
step-father:
John Nelson Boyd. Musician. Scottish; served in the Royal Air Force as a pilot during WWII.
brother:
Trevor McAnuff. Older; born c. 1948.
daughter:
Julia Violet McAnuff. Born on July 13, 1990.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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