Playwright, Director, Actor and TFT alumnus Gary Gardner MFA '68 has, in his four decades at UCLA, directed numerous productions, including musicals: "She Loves Me," "Carousel," "Company" (1980s), "A Chorus Line" (1991), "Urinetown" and "Anything Goes;" dramas: "Middle of the Night" (starring Joyce DeWitt), "The House of Blue Leaves," Arthur Miller's "The American Clock," "The Kentucky Cycle" and Eugene O'Neil's "Desire Under the Elms;" and student-written original plays, including "Upstream Toward Lethe"(George Moran), "Family Matters" by Jeff Brown, "The Atomic View Motel," by Scott Seiffert, and Kit Steinkellner's "A Small Pair of Feet in the Middle of the Sea."
He is most proud of directing the student-written musical review "Bruinhaha!," which played the Kennedy Center and won the ASCAP Award in 1985, after a tour of UC campuses. Gardner productions won the American College Theater Festival awards in 1977, 1981, 1984, 1989 and 2009.
As a playwright, Gardner wrote the book and lyrics for the off-Broadway musical "The Matinee Kids" with composer Brian Lasser, with whom he also wrote cabaret and nightclub material for performers Carol Lawrence, Karen Mason and Donna Murphy. After Mr. Lasser's death, Gardner teamed with composer John Kroner to write "Rabbit Sense" and "Everything About a Day (Almost)" for TADA!, an off Broadway professional children's theater. Each has been revived numerous times since its debut. With Kroner, he also wrote yearly galas for the Ninety Second Street Y in Manhattan, for stars such as Judy Kaye and Sutton and Hunter Foster, as well as several cabaret acts.
As an actor, Gardner has performed in 17 award-winning student films, some of which have played on Showtime and the PBS station KCET. He also has performed at various Equity Waiver theaters throughout Los Angeles, and looks forward to doing more acting upon his retirement.
Other work by Gardner includes the direction of "My Fair Lady" and "Peter Pan" at the Thousand Oaks Civic Light Opera (Kavli Auditorium) and original lyrics for "Hollywood Live!" which played at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.
But the thing his mommy liked best was the fact that every year between 2001 and 2007, Gary Gardner was voted the Number One UCLA instructor by Bruin Online, primarily on the strength of his SRO class "History of the American Musical Theater," which he initiated in 1997 and has taught ever since as it sole instructor. The course will remain available on TFT Online and will be taught by Gardner even after his retirement. Partly because of this course, the department was able to secure funds from the estate of musical theater giant Ray Bolger to launch The Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program, which trains students in acting, singing and dance, and which Gardner has chaired since its inception.
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