Director Paul Gurgol Dead at 55

We received the sad news yesterday that acclaimed Cleveland theater director Paul Gurgol passed away on Saturday, March 24. Friend and colleague John Paul Boukis tells us the cause of death was cancer. Gurgol was 55 years old.

Among his many Cleveland credits, Gurgol directed A Little Night Music for the Cleveland Opera in 2007 and Sweeney Todd at Cain Park in 2010. He also produced My Fair Lady at the Beck Center in 2010, and served as rehearsal director for Cleveland dance troupe, Dancing Wheels.

He was perhaps best known, though, as co-founder, with Boukis, of Kalliope Stage in Cleveland Heights. The regional professional theater focused on presenting reinvented classics and the best new works of American musical theater. When Kalliope closed in 2008 after a four-year run, its loss deeply saddened the local theater community.

Nonetheless, Gurgol remained in great demand as a director. Among his many professional assets was a passion for presenting new works, recalls Boukis. “He was committed to finding the gems that were undiscovered and putting the shine to them.”

He was also a meticulous researcher, who dug deeply into his material both to ensure historical accuracy and to capture the nuances of daily life during the period. “Cabaret (at Kalliope in 2005) was probably his opus. His research of that period was what made the show so rich. I can’t speak highly enough about his commitment to the work.”

Gurgol was in the midst of preparing to direct Avenue Q this summer at Cain Park when he became ill, says partner and colleague Rex Snider. “He hoped that he would be able to put on a final show, but he wasn’t.”

A mass will be held for Gurgol on Saturday March 31 at 10 a.m. at St. John’s Cathedral (1007 Superior Ave.) in downtown Cleveland. — Elaine T. Cicora

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