van Bridge, Tony
Tony Van Bridge, actor, director, writer (b Valentine Anthony Neil Bridge, at London, Eng 28 May 1917; d at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont 20 Dec 2004). Graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1938, he acted in provincial repertory theatre before the war. Discharged from the British Army in 1946 with the rank of captain, he made his London debut at the Duchess Theatre, and performed with the Young Vic (1947-50) and Old Vic (1950-54) companies.
His Canadian career began with Canadian Players' tour of Saint Joan (1954), and thereafter he established himself as a director of Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night) and Shaw (Pygmalion, The Devil's Disciple, Saint Joan, Arms and the Man) between 1959 and 1962. In 1955, he joined Tyrone GUTHRIE, whom he knew from the Old Vic (1951-52), at the STRATFORD FESTIVAL and became known as one of Canada's finest comic actors. Remembered for numerous roles during his 15 seasons at Stratford, his portrayal of Falstaff, in all 3 plays in which that character appears, solidified his acting reputation.
Joining the SHAW FESTIVAL as Captain Shotover in Heartbreak House in 1968, he acted in numerous productions in 17 seasons there. His directing credits for Shaw include Man and Superman (1977), a 5-and-½-hour production that received rave reviews. In 1970, he wrote, directed, and starred in GKC, a one-man show about G.K. Chesterton that has been repeatedly revived.
Van Bridge also appeared in regional theatres across Canada (Halifax, Ottawa, London, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria) and in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, and Stratford, Connecticut. Television work in the 1980s yielded an ACTRA AWARD for his portrayal in Judge.
An honorary doctoral degree from Brock University in 1996 recognized his professionalism, dedication to the craft of acting, and multiple contributions to the Canadian theatre. In 1997, at the age of 80, he returned to Shaw as Dr. Tuttle in The Two Mrs. Carrolls.