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Nikos Psacharopoulos, 60; Director of Theater Festival

<i> From Times Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Nikos Psacharopoulos, longtime director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where such actors as Christopher Reeve, Blythe Danner and Colleen Dewhurst trained and entertained, has died of colon cancer in the Virgin Islands. He was 60 and was vacationing in the islands.

During his tenure, the Williams-town festival grew from a small summer theater in the 1950s to a national showcase that featured the plays of Tennessee Williams, Bertholt Brecht, George Bernard Shaw and Thornton Wilder.

Psacharopoulos, who was born in Athens, came to the United States at age 17 to enter Oberlin College, where he studied art history. After earning a master’s degree at the Yale School of Drama, he taught drama at Amherst College for a year and then became associate artistic director of the Williamstown festival in 1955.

He was named artistic executive director the next year.

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Over the years he directed 97 shows in Williamstown and several on Broadway and for the New York City Opera. His credits include “Tambourines to Glory,” a Broadway musical with an all-black cast.

In 1986, Psacharopoulos directed Shaw’s “Arms and the Man” when the Pasadena Playhouse reopened after a 20-year hiatus.

In 1988, he directed three productions: “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Broadway, “Sweet Bird of Youth” at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto and “The Legend of Oedipus” in Williamstown.

Psacharopoulos died Jan. 12. A funeral service will be held Sunday in New York City.

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