The Broadway Community Remembers Mike Nichols


Iconic director of stage and screen Mike Nichols died of cardiac arrest on Nov. 19. He was 83.

Among the many accomplishments of Nichols’ esteemed career is the immense effect he had on the Broadway community.

Nichols debuted on Broadway in 1960 as a performer in “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May.” The comedy duo’s recording of the hit show earned Nichols a Grammy for Best Comedic Performance -- the first of Nichols’ EGOT achievement.

Nichols directed more than 20 Broadway shows -- winning eight Tonys for best director along the way. He made his directorial debut in 1963 with Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” -- and would go on to helm Neil Simon-classics like “The Odd Couple” and “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.”

He also directed the original productions of Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” and the Monty Python’s “Spamalot” -- both of which would take top honors at the Tonys.

Last season, Nichols was represented on Broadway with the Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz-lead “Betrayal.” Before that was 2012’s acclaimed revival of “Death of a Salesman,” for which he took home his eighth Tony and directed the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final Broadway outing.

Nichols produced Broadway shows, too, including the original production of “Annie” and two solo shows for Whoopi Goldberg.

His career as a film director began while sticking to his theatrical roots -- directing the film version of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” He would win an Oscar for that and take home two Emmys for small screen adaptations of Margaret Edson’s “Wit” and Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.”

He also directed film adaptations of Simon’s “Biloxi Blues” and Patrick Marber’s “Closer,” plus the hit film “The Birdcage,” an adaptation of “La Cage aux Folles” starring Nathan Lane and the late Robin Williams.

At the time of his death, Nichols was once again adapting a popular stage play for TV -- this time, Terrence McNally’s “Master Class” for HBO. The Tony-winning play, about opera legend Maria Callas, reunited Nichols with frequent collaborator Meryl Streep, who hailed Nichols as one of the essential artists of our time.

"No explanation of our world could be complete and no account or image of it so rich if we didn’t have [him],” Streep tweeted.

Known for making stars out of the actors whom he cast, Nichols worked with many of the greats on the Great White Way, including Morgan Freeman, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Andrew Garfield, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver and Judith Ivey.

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Sara Ramirez, who won a Tony for her role in “Spamalot,” tweeted that Nichols was“an extraordinary man who impacted so many lives with his art, love, wit and humor.”

“My first Broadway audition was for ‘Spamalot,’” tweeted Tony-winner Steve Kazee (“Once”). “My time with Mike Nichols...I consider to be some of the most valuable time of my life. He was truly a genius. More than that he became a friend and a mentor. I could never truly express all the good he brought to my life on so many levels.”

"Thank you to the legendary Mike Nichols for directing me in my Broadway debut," tweeted "Pitch Perfect" star Anna Camp, who worked with Nichols in 2008's "The Country Girl." 

Many of Nichols other collaborators and friends shared their memories of him. 

"I'm absolutely heartbroken," tweeted Audra McDonald. "I love you."

"River" star Hugh Jackman called him "A true visionary and friend" on twitter, while "Glee" star Matthew Morrison thanked Nichols for giving him the advice to help him continue on his own path when he was a struggling young actor.

"I wish I could capture in 140 characters what a wonderful man Mike Nichols was, and how much I loved him and his work," tweeted Hank Azaria, who worked with Nichols in "Spamalot." "I will truly miss him." 

Patrick Wilson, who starred in "Angels in America," said Nichols "gave me my film career" and praised him for his unmatched legacy. "His Cheshire Cat smile looms large." 

The marquees of Broadway theaters in New York will dim their lights Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:45pm in memory of Nichols. 

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