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Gene Feist, 91, New Rochelle Teacher, Theater Company Founder

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Gene Feist, the Founding Director of Broadway’s Roundabout Theater Company, died after a short illness on March 17 at the age of 91.

Feist was predeceased by his wife, Kathe, an actress who performed as Elizabeth Owens. He is survived by daughters Nicole and Gena and two grandchildren. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

A fifth-generation native New Yorker, Feist served in World War II and studied theater arts at Carnegie-Mellon University. Feist was the Artistic Director of the New Theater in Nashville, Tennessee. Feist returned to New York City where he and Kathe Feist founded the Roundabout Theatre Company in 1965.

Feist was the Artistic Director of the Roundabout theater company for almost 30 years and he produced or directed over 150 plays during that time. Under his leadership the Roundabout Theater Company attracted the largest subscriber base of any theatrical institution in the League of Regional Theaters.

While the Roundabout Theater Company was becoming established, Feist worked as a drama teacher in the New Rochelle public school system. After the Roundabout Theater Company became a local institution, Feist continued teaching as the head of the Roundabout Conservatory and Ensemble Company drama school.

As a playwright, Feist wrote or adapted 15 plays, including The Lady from Maxim’s and James Joice’s Dublin.

Feist was granted an honorary Doctoral degree from his alma mater, Carnegie-Mellon University, named a Lifetime Tony Awards voter, and was the recipient of numerous theater awards including the 1996 Lucille Lortel Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award.

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