Death of an all-around man leaves void in theatrical circles

March 25, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

In the last two years, Anthony "Tony" Reich had become an irreplaceable partner at the Patuxent Theatre Company in Jessup. On March 6, the 41-year-old Baltimore resident died of a ruptured blood vessel in Alexandria, Va., where he was directing a play.

With his death, Patuxent Theatre Company's owner plans to eliminate the company's performances for those in high school and older effective at the close of this season, which ends with a performance of "The Diary of Anne Frank."

Gary Goodson, the 3-year-old theater company's owner, said he can no longer maintain all of the theater's programs by himself. He plans to continue only those programs aimed at younger children.

"He was my partner," Mr. Goodson said. "I think Tony is irreplaceable."

Actors from Baltimore to Washington have praised Mr. Reich's contributions and have established a memorial fund.

Mr. Reich is survived by his parents, Harold and Cecilia Reich of Rosedale; four brothers; a sister; and several nieces and nephews.

"He was one of the few who were able to make a living acting," said Theresa Colbin, who worked with Mr. Reich for two months in November 1992. "In the theater circle, he was very well known. He was one of the hardest-working actors."

Mr. Reich died while he was directing a production of "Annie Get Your Gun," which opened Friday at the West End Dinner Theater in Alexandria.

In addition to his extensive involvement with the Patuxent Theatre Company, Mr. Reich also appeared in plays at the now-defunct Petrucci's Dinner Theater in Laurel and at the Wye Mills Theater on the Eastern Shore.

He had roles in "Macbeth," "The Odd Couple," "Carmen," "Anything Goes" and "Amadeus," in which he played Salieri for the Patuxent Theatre Company.

Mr. Reich joined Mr. Goodson at the theater company two years ago, after the two met while performing at the Petrucci's.

In addition to acting, Mr. Reich spent four days a week as office manager and, at times, lecturer for the Drama Learning Center in Jessup, a 100-seat theater and school in an office building off Guilford Road. The center holds 10-week acting courses, which draw more than 1,000 school-age children each year.

He often made costumes for the students at the learning center and for actors at Patuxent Theatre Company. Then he would design the sets for the plays, act and direct.

The theater company will continue its Family Series, a brainchild of Mr. Reich's that includes three plays during the course of a year. That program began last fall with two literary works -- "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "A Christmas Carol" -- transformed into plays by Mr. Reich.

The theater company also invites schools to see the shows at the Drama Learning Center. Five schools have attended a total of 10 shows this school year.

"Howard County is right between Washington and Baltimore," Mr. Goodson said of the theater company. "I feel that it is a wonderful place to provide this sort of thing. I would like to see that continue as a memorial to Tony." Mr. Goodson also plans to rename the Patuxent Theatre Company in honor of Mr. Reich.

"You just don't replace somebody like that," said Sonny Lerner, an assistant principal at Bushy Park Elementary School in Glenwood and owner of the Drama Learning Center. "He was very talented . . . and he was a friend, too."

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