NEW YORK — Albert Marre, the Tony Award-winning director of the original Broadway production of ‘‘Man of La Mancha’’ and three of its four Broadway revivals, died in Manhattan Sept. 4. He was 87.
Mr. Marre directed or staged more than two dozen Broadway shows in more than 50 years in theater, among them the musicals ‘‘Kismet’’ and ‘‘Milk and Honey.’’
But it was ‘‘Man of La Mancha,’’ the musical adaptation of ‘‘Don Quixote’’ (written by Dale Wasserman, with lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh), that brought him his greatest acclaim.
The famous story of a deluded would-be knight, presented as a play within a play performed by the novel’s author, Miguel de Cervantes, and his fellow prisoners as he awaits trial during the Spanish Inquisition, ‘‘Man of La Mancha’’ began off-Broadway but soon moved uptown and went on to become one of the biggest hits in Broadway history. It ran on Broadway for 2,328 performances, from November 1965 through June 1971.
The original cast starred Richard Kiley as Don Quixote; Irving Jacobson as his squire, Sancho Panza; and Joan Diener (Mr. Marre’s second wife) as the servant who becomes his true love, Dulcinea. But the show was probably best known for one song: ‘‘The Impossible Dream.’’
“One does not expect complete fidelity to Cervantes outside his pages — who reads him these days? — but there are charm, gallantry, and a delicacy of spirit in this reincarnation of Quixote,’’ Howard Taubman wrote in The New York Times.
Mr. Marre won the Tony for best director of a musical. He remained closely identified with the show for many years, directing its Broadway revivals in 1972, 1977, and 1992, as well as numerous productions around the country and internationally.
Mr. Marre made his Broadway debut as an actor and associate director of the 1950 revival of John Vanbrugh’s comedy ‘‘The Relapse.’’ He directed ‘‘Kismet,’’ for which he received the 1954 Donaldson Award, a precursor to the Tonys.
In 1956, Mr. Marre was nominated for a Tony for ‘‘The Chalk Garden,’’ Enid Bagnold’s play about a disturbed child under the care of her grandmother and a governess. In 1961 he directed ‘‘Milk and Honey,’’ a story about the birth of Israel. Featuring songs by Jerry Herman, it was nominated for five Tonys, including best musical (although Mr. Marre did not receive a nomination).
Albert Eliot Moshinsky was born in Manhattan to Alexander and Eugenia Moshinsky. (He later changed his name.)
Mr. Marre, who was known as Albie, graduated from Oberlin College and then served in the Navy during World War II. After the war he attended Harvard Law School, but stopped going to classes after he and several fellow students created what became the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., one of the country’s first classical repertory companies. There he met the actress Jan Farrand, whom he married and later divorced.
His second wife, Diener, died in 2006. Three years later he married Mimi Turque. Besides his wife, he leaves a son, Adam; a daughter, Jennifer Marre; and three grandchildren.
When ‘‘Man of La Mancha’’ was first reprised, in 1972, Howard Thompson of the Times called it ‘‘a stunning revival’’ and wrote, ‘‘Bravo to Miguel de Cervantes, the original dreamer, and to Albert Marre, again directing.’’