Brent Carver, a stage and screen actor who won the 1993 Tony Award for his performance in Broadway’s The Kiss of the Spider Woman, died Tuesday at his home in Cranbrook, British Columbia, his family has reported. He was 68.
A cause of death was not specified.
“Our family is sharing news of Brent Carver’s passing on Aug 4 at home in Cranbrook, BC, his birthplace and favourite place on Earth,” read a family statement. “Blessed with many talents and a natural love of theatre, Brent was always known as a first-class performer, unique in the presentation of his craft, delighting audiences through film, TV, stage and concert performances.”
Chita Rivera, Carver’s Kiss of the Spider Woman co-star who also won a Tony that year, said today, “My heart is broken at the loss of my great friend and amazing artist, Brent Carver. I shall miss him more than I can say.”
Carver began his stage career in 1972, with a performance in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at the Vancouver Arts Club. He segued to television four years later with a costarring role on the CBC sitcom Leo and Me opposite a pre-stardom Michael J. Fox, although the series would not air until 1981.
He went on to a lengthy career in both television and film, including movies such as 1979’s Crossbar with Kim Cattrall, 1983’s The Wars, 1989’s Millennium and 2003’s The Event, and TV roles including 1997’s Due South, 1999’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and 2017’s Save Me.
But it was on stage that Carver built what will likely be regarded as his most lasting legacy, including playing Ariel opposite Anthony Hopkins as Prospero in a 1979 production of The Tempest at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum. In 1981, he starred in a Toronto production of Martin Sherman’s Bent, and in 1993 he turned in his acclaimed, heartbreaking, Tony Award-winning performance as Molina in the Kander and Ebb Broadway musical The Kiss of the Spider Woman. He played the role in the Toronto and London productions of the musical as well.
Carver returned to Broadway in 1998’s Tony-winning Parade at Lincoln Center Theater, starring as Leo Frank in the Harold Prince-directed musical about the infamous 1915 lynching. The performance won Carver the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical.
Subsequent Broadway roles included Edgar in Lincoln Center Theater’s 2004 production of King Lear, and as Friar Laurence in 2013’s Romeo and Juliet, starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad.
Carver performed at Ontario’s Stratford Festival for nine seasons, the most recent in 2017’s Twelfth Night and The School of Scandal.
“We are devastated to learn of the death of Brent Carver,” the Stratford said in a statement. “He was the best of us and represented the best in us. He was singular: an original in every sense. And yet his heart was so big it encompassed us all and made us one. Our thoughts are with his family and all who loved him.”
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