By Cassy Sottile
The Chestertown theatre and Washington College community filled Decker Theatre on Saturday, March 9 in a celebration of the arts in honor of Mark Bramble.
Bramble passed away on Feb. 20 at the age of 68. As author of the books for “Barnum,” “42nd Street” and “The Three Musketeers,” and three-time Tony Award nominee, he leaves a big legacy in the theatre community.
A native of Chestertown, Bramble spent much of his childhood by the Bay, and would often return here, according to long-time friend Stiles Colwill.
Bramble’s legacy stretches across state-lines and oceans. From New York City starting in the 1970s when his Broadway career began to London for a revival of “42nd Street,” Bramble never forgot his roots in Chestertown.
Bramble’s legacy extends to WC as well. In 2009, he was presented with an honorary Doctor of Arts, according to a 2009 WC press release.
The service began with a viewing of the recently filmed London production of “42nd Street,” Bramble’s last project before he passed away.
According to Colwill, though Bramble himself will not get to see the completed project when it is released, he was able to see the filming of it before his passing.
Bramble’s passions transcended the world of theatre. In 2017, Bramble published “A Tea Caddy Collection,” a book about tea caddies, a hobby of his mother’s that he himself later took up.
His collection was an exhibit at the Homewood Museum on the Johns Hopkins University campus. Entitled “As Precious as Gold: A History for Tea Caddies from the Bramble Collection,” the exhibit ran from Nov. 7 to Dec, 15 in 2017.
Another long-time friend Barbara Kolsun spoke about her time with Bramble and his passions, including his beloved Chesapeake Bay and gardening.
Pianist and Musical Director from the 2001 revival of “42nd Street” Todd Ellison played a rendition of “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” during a slideshow of his garden and other home projects, including his gardening around his parents’ home, which Bramble renovated.
Several notable Broadway alumni who worked with Bramble in the past came to Chestertown to remember him.
Alanda Salvatore Cosentino, a cast member from the 2001 Broadway revival of “42nd Street” sang “About a Quarter to Nine.”
Another “42nd Street” alum Blake Stadnick from the London production of the show sang “Colors of My Life” from “Barnum.”
Bramble’s memorial service closed with his family, closest friends and collaborators singing “Lullaby of Broadway” from “42nd Street” and gave him one last round of applause.