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Buffalo-born playwright, composer Elizabeth Swados is dead at 64

Elizabeth Swados, an author, composer, Tony-nominated playwright and the daughter of the man who helped found the Buffalo Sabres, died on Tuesday in Manhattan, according to the New York Times. She was 64.

Ms. Swados gained fame while still a student at Bennington College, where she provided the music for Andrei Serban’s adaptation of "Medea" at La MaMa, the downtown Manhattan avant-garde theater, the Times said.

The Times obituary also noted: "In 1978 she had a breakout hit with 'Runaways,' a musical revue about runaway teenagers that originated at the Public Theater’s Cabaret and made the move to Broadway, personally earning four Tony nominations. Ms. Swados wrote and directed the play, whose cast was made up of 18 troubled young people she had interviewed while researching broken families. She also composed the music, contributed the lyrics and played guitar offstage."

Her father, Robert, worked with Seymour and Northrup Knox to help establish the Sabres as a National Hockey League franchise. The Times notes that her mother, Sylvia, a former actress and poet, slipped into depression and alcoholism and committed suicide just as her daughter was starting her career in the theater. Her brother, Lincoln, developed schizophrenia and died in 1989.

Ms. Swados published her memoir "The Four of Us" in 1991, which News Arts Editor Jeff Simon called "harrowing" and said "It is bound to be immensely controversial. Within a certain social milieu, in fact, it is likely to be as avidly read, denounced and admired as any book ever written about Buffalo."

Ms. Swados authored a picture book called "My Depression," which News Book Reviewer Jean Westmoore described as "a kind of miracle ... a book about depression that is not at all depressing."

 

 

 

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