Stuart S. Bishop, 72
Accomplished stage director, former guesthouse owner
After a theatrical career spanning over four decades, Stuart Bishop, 72, died at Tucson's Northwest Medical Center early Thursday morning, April 12, of congestive heart failure following several years' battle with diabetic complications.
Bishop is well remembered here in Provincetown where he generously shared his professional theatrical talents with the local community theater organization, the Provincetown Theatre Company. He directed both 'Deathtrap' and a new work by David Simpson, 'Hotel Elysee'; he also served on the PTCs board of directors. When not traveling around the country directing shows at myriad theaters, he and his partner, Steve Stephenson, were also busy running the Achilles House guesthouse which stretched out on a dock over the water. They moved to Arizona in 1987.
Bishop was born in Malden, Mass. After serving in the Korean War he began his career in the theater as a scene designer. He trained at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, continued at The Rhode Island School of Design and at Emerson College in Boston, combined his skills as designer/ director at a string of regional theaters including St. John Terrell's musical tents scattered throughout the Northeast. During the 60s and 70s, he honed those skills and soon became a premier major artist designing and directing for theater in the round.
On Broadway, he directed Jane Powell when she replaced Debbie Reynolds in the title role of "Irene." Recently, while he was recuperating from surgery, Jane Powell called and over speakerphones, he directed her and her husband Dick Moore in "Love Letters" from his bedside to their rehearsal hall in New York. He then packed up his wheelchair, traveled to Viterbo University in La Crosse, Mich., held seminars on musical comedy, coached and directed the students in the art and flair for French farce with a production of Georges Feydeau's "A Flea in Her Ear."
He served as guest director, artist-in-residence and lecturer for numerous schools, colleges and universities where his commitment to his work touched the lives of thousands of young people.
According to his wishes, there is to be no funeral. His cremated remains will be sent to Bristol, R.I. to rest in the Slade family section of Old North Cemetery overlooking Narragansett Bay in his 'Kingdom by the Sea,' the title of his novel to be published posthumously. There will be a private memorial service in May held by his one surviving sister, Lois M. Davies of Rhode Island, and her family.
No memory of Stuart Bishop would be complete without a nod to his humor: the one-line zingers, his skewering curmudgeon barbs. According to Stephenson, it persisted right to the very end. 'Sitting in his wheelchair waiting to be checked into the hospital for the last time, the person behind the counter made the mistake of asking rather routinely 'Sir, would you repeat your last name?' The reception area was crowded, an audience of sorts, a perfect moment. 'BISHOP', he answered in full stage voice. 'B-I-S-H O-P', he spelled, 'AS IN KISS MY RING.' It took a long moment for the reception area to think, and then the entire crowd burst into applause.'