Gary Beach, Tony-Winning Star of Broadway’s ‘The Producers,’ Dies at 70

Actor also earned Tony noms for “Beauty and the Beast” and “La Cage aux Folles”

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Gary Beach, who earned a Tony Award in 2001 for Mel Brooks’ Broadway musical “The Producers,” died Monday in Palm Springs, Calif., his agent Steven Unger confirmed. No cause of death was given.

Beach also earned Tony nominations for playing Lumiere in Disney’s 1994 Broadway adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” and the drag star Albin in the 2004 revival of Jerry Herman’s “La Cage aux Folles.”

But he is best remembered for his turn as the flamboyantly gay director Roger de Bris who tries to stage the musical-within-a-musical “Springtime for Hitler” in Brooks’ musical comedy “The Producers.”

He won wide acclaim — and one of the show’s record-breaking 12 Tony Awards — for the role, first played by Christopher Hewett in Brooks’ 1967 film of the same name. “I am the happiest boy in the fifth grade,” he said on accepting the award on the stage of Radio City Music Hall.

Beach’s other Broadway credits include Thenardier in the 2006 revival of “Les Miserables” as well as “Annie,” “Doonesbury,” “The Moony Shapiro Songbook” and “1776.”

The Baruch Frankel Routh Viertel Group, the producers of “The Producers,” said in a statement, “Gary Beach, an actor of consummate skill and artistry, was a glorious human being; a gifted, generous and incredibly funny actor whose presence in a rehearsal room or on the stage lifted everyone’s spirit and inspired them to be the best they could be  His joyous, Tony Award winning performance as Roger DeBris will remain forever in our minds and hearts as the personification of the joyous spirit of Mel Brooks’ ‘The Producers.’”

He is survived by his husband, Jeffrey Barnett.