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A Tribute to Matthew Tomlanovich, the 21st Century Margo Jones

A memorial service for Tomlanovich will be held Nov. 22 at 4:30 p.m. at the St. James Episcopal Church

By Ally Van Deuren (B.F.A. Theatre, B.A. Journalism, ’15)

The Dallas theater community lost one of its greats last weekend.

Dallas-area teacher, director, actor and mentor Matthew Tomlanovich passed away Sunday, Oct.19, after fighting complications for more than six months due to an MRSA infection.

Husband of Meadows School of the Arts’ Associate Professor of Costume Design Claudia Stephens, Tomlanovich devoted his life to mentoring the next generation of young artists. His impact on the Dallas theater community has been exceptional and inspiring. Among other contributions, he reinvented and revitalized the original Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park in 2013 as a venue for emerging theater organizations.

“Matt and I enjoyed working in the theater, each in our own ways,” Stephens said. “I am a costume designer, he was everything else: actor, director, voice coach, playwright, mentor, teacher, father, producer and ultimately landlord or chief cook and janitor at the Margo Jones Theatre. … Everyone he met had value in his eyes, always.”

Tomlanovich was 54 at the time of his death and is survived by Stephens, his wife of 21 years, and their sons Raisch, 19 and a sophomore at SMU, and Eli, 17.

After earning his master’s from the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and an M.F.A. in acting from California Institute of the Arts, Tomlanovich went on to work for 30 years in the theater as an actor, director and vocal coach. He taught at SMU, Cal-Arts, The Actor Training Program at the University of Utah, London’s East 15 Acting School, Central School of Speech and Drama, University of North Texas and UT Dallas. He served as an associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework and was acclaimed for his work with Junior Players, which began in 2000 and continued until he got sick this year. He conducted workshops in both the United States and England and performed on local stages, as well as in various Off-Broadway and international theater venues.

A memorial service for Tomlanovich will be held Nov. 22 at 4:30 p.m. at the St. James Episcopal Church, located at 9845 McCree Blvd. in Dallas. The family has requested that donations in his name be made to the Margo Jones Theatre, located at 1st Ave. in Fair Park, Dallas. Arrangements are under the direction of ARIA Cremation Service and Funeral Home, located at 10116 E. Northwest Highway, Dallas. Junior Players has also established a college scholarship in his name, where donations are welcome.

Check out the Dallas Morning News feature and the Dallas Observer feature on Tomlanovich. For more information on how Tomlanovich revamped The Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park visit TheatreJones. The Margo Jones Theatre also won the Best Theatrical Comeback of 2014, thanks to the work of Tomlanovich.

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