Mark Bramble, a three-time Tony Award nominee who authored the librettos for the Broadway musicals Barnum and 42nd Street, died February 20 in Baltimore, Maryland, following complications related to cardiovascular hypertension. He was 68 years old. His death was confirmed by longtime business manager and friend, Richard Koenigsberg.
Bramble began his theatrical career in 1971, working as an apprentice in the office of theatre impresario David Merrick. He would later contribute to the book for Merrick’s long-running Broadway hit 42nd Street.
Bramble’s first Broadway production was the 1974 premiere of the Jerry Herman musical Mack & Mabel, serving as assistant to associate producer Jack Schlissel. Bramble became a frequent collaborator of the show’s book writer, Michael Stewart.
In 1978, Bramble made his Broadway debut as a book writer, collaborating with Stewart on the short-lived Jerry Herman musical The Grand Tour.
He was reunited with I Love My Wife composer Coleman, this time as a collaborator, on a musical based on the life of circus showman P.T. Barnum. Featuring a book by Bramble, music by Coleman, and lyrics by Stewart, Barnum opened on Broadway in 1980, earning Bramble his first Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical.
The following season, he collaborated with Stewart and Bradford Ropes, writing lead-ins and crossovers for Merrick's Tony Award-winning 1980 stage adaptation of the Hollywood classic 42nd Street. The trio were nominated for Best Book of a Musical. He directed many productions of 42nd Street, with international stagings in London, Sydney, Shanghai, Tokyo, Amsterdam, and Vienna. He returned to direct the Tony-winning 2001 Broadway revival of the musical, earning a Tony nomination for Best Direction of a Musical.
Bramble also collaborated with Stewart on Pieces of Eight, a musical adaptation of Treasure Island composed by Jule Styne, and the Off-Broadway opera Elizabeth & Essex. He wrote the book for a 1984 Broadway musical adaptation of The Three Musketeers, using the music of Rudolf Friml and served as director-librettist for the 1987 musical Fat Pig, co-written with Dreamgirls and Side Show composer Henry Krieger. He also directed his 1991 adaptation of Notre Dame at Sadler's Wells, London.
He was a member of the Dramatist's Guild, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers.
Mark Bramble was born December 7, 1950, in Chestertown, Maryland. He is survived by his two brothers and their spouses, David and Holly Bramble and Alan and Cathy Bramble, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Donations in Mr. Bramble’s memory can be made to The Actors Fund to be used for The Lillian Booth Actors Home.