Mark Bramble, the Tony Award-nominated librettist of Broadway’s hit musicals 42nd Street and Barnum, died Wednesday at a Baltimore hospital of complications related to cardiovascular hypertension. He was 68.
His death was announced by his longtime business manager and friend Richard Koenigsberg.
In addition to writing books for musicals, Bramble, a Maryland native, was a producer and director. He was Tony-nominated for his direction of the 2001 Broadway revival of 42nd Street, and though he lost to The Producers‘ Susan Stroman, 42nd Street won that year for best musical revival.
Bramble began his theatrical career in 1971 as an apprentice in the office of famed producer David Merrick. By 1980 he was a recognized Broadway presence in his own right as the librettist of Barnum, a musical about showman P.T. Barnum with songs by Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart. The show brought Bramble a Tony nomination, as it did for its featured actress: Glenn Close.
The following year brought an even greater success, with 42nd Street, which would be a long-running Broadway hit (closing in 1989). Bramble and co-librettist Michael Stewart were Tony-nominated. In addition to the 2001 revival, Bramble would go on to direct many productions of the musical, including stagings in London, Sydney, Shanghai, Tokyo, Amsterdam and Vienna.
In 1984, Bramble wrote the book for Broadway’s The Three Musketeers, with music by Rudolph Friml. Other collaborations with Stewart included The Grand Tour (1978) with songs by Jerry Herman; Pieces of Eight, a musical adaptation of Treasure Island with songs by Jule Styne; and the off Broadway opera Elizabeth & Essex based on Maxwell Anderson’s Elizabeth The Queen.
Off stage, Bramble was a collector of tea caddies, and wrote a 2017 book on the subject, A Tea Caddy Collection. His collection has been exhibited in various museums.
Bramble is survived by his two brothers, their spouses, and numerous nieces and nephews. Funeral arrangements and a life celebration will be announced at a later date. Donations in his memory can be made to The Actors Fund to be used for The Lillian Booth Actors Home.