My tribute to Ted Mann.

1When anyone that has an impact on our industry passes away, it has a pretty massive effect on me.

But when it’s someone that I’ve met, someone that I’ve worked with, and someone that inspired me to keep on doing this thing that we do, well . . . it’s . . . uh . . . hard.

Ted Mann, the founder of Circle in the Square, passed away last Friday at the all-too-early age of 87.  A lot of people credit Mr. Mann with founding Off-Broadway as we know it, when he took shows that Broadway couldn’t quite make work and reinvented them downtown.

He rose through the ranks quickly, but never forgot his roots, and he dedicated his life to training generation after generation of theater artists.  His fingerprints are on a lot of resumes of some of our industry’s finest actors and finest artists.

I first met Ted on my initial site visit of Circle in the Square, when Godspell in the round was just a concept.  There he was, to say hello, to shake my hand, and to welcome me to his house.

He used to call my office every so often, asking questions, giving me some great ideas, and sometimes, just to go out of his way to say how much he loved seeing Godspell in his theater.  It was hard to get the smile off my face after one of those calls, I can tell you that.

You can read all about Ted’s career here.

Or, you can read it in his own words here.

We’ll miss you, Ted.  I’ll miss you.  And all of us at Godspell will miss you, but we will remember you every single night.

If you’d like to honor him, go see an Off-Broadway show this week.  Off-Broadway is in a tricky state these days, and as Ted proved time and time again, without it (and without him) the modern day theater wouldn’t be as rich as it is today.


(Got a comment? I love ’em, so comment below! Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • Jani Bedrick says:

    May Ted Mann Rest In Eternal Peace. My involvement with Godspell at The Circle In The Square is a Blessing!

  • Kathleen Hochberg says:

    What a beautiful tribute Ken. I am so sorry you have lost a dear friend.

  • Michael says:

    Wow, this guy sounds like a real pioneer. I will be in NYC soon. I wish I could have met Ted…..
    He seems to have inderstood bold experimentation and with a lot of compassion.

  • Michael says:

    Understood…and inderstood….

  • Vicki Vodrey says:

    My first acting teacher, Jerry Funk, told so many stories about Mr. Mann and The Circle In The Square, having worked with him there. What a loss. But how inspirational he still is.

  • Bryan David says:

    Dear Mr. Davenport, et al:
    1st my condolences to you, Off-Broadway & Mr. Mann’s many friends, family and supporters & thespians world over.
    2nd Congratulations on placing in the top 5 Broadway grosses. That’s a lot of work for EVERYONE involved.
    3rd “Give me a chance I know I can work it.” S.S.
    “Whitechapel” ©
    The Life & Times
    ‘Jack The Ripper’
    A Musical Love Story! ™
    © Copyright 1996/2007 Bryan David/Brandon Kress
    All Rights Reserved
    Yours now & possibly forever,
    Bryan David
    Playwright & Lyricist
    P.S. Shout out to Ms. Caplow!!!!!!

  • R Fox says:

    I find much of the information imparted on your site to be invaluable. I started subscribing to your blog last year. The year before that I had the supreme privilege of being directed by Ted Mann in a children’s theatre production at Circle. Two years before that I moved to New York to go pro with my acting career because Ted Mann and the faculty of his school thought I showed promise. I get the feeling that, although he is gone, his influence will continue to support our community and our industry exponentially. And I will do my part to keep his memory and his legacy alive. Thank you for paying tribute!

  • Shannon D. says:

    Aww Ken, what a lovely, and informative, tribute!
    Circle in the Square is where I began my “repeat offending” – seeing a show over and over again – back in 2001 (Rocky Horror). It’s such a great space.
    And I am a HUGE fan of Off-Broadway!
    Glad to know he was a pioneer in that concept.
    I honestly believe there is alot better performances/shows Off, than On Broadway sometimes and always support them and try to get people to go to them (along with Broadway, don’t get me wrong lol)

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