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Jacques Levy, 69; Broadway Director of ‘Oh! Calcutta!’

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Jacques Levy, a Broadway theater director most noted for the musical “Oh! Calcutta!,” died of cancer Sept. 30. He was 69.

Active in off-Broadway and regional theater, Levy directed the production’s original staging in 1969 and its revival in 1976 for a total of more than 7,200 performances.

He also directed the musical comedy version of the comic strip “Doonesbury” for the 1983-84 season, wrote songs performed by such entertainers as Carly Simon and Crystal Gayle, and wrote lyrics for the musical “Fame.”

With Bob Dylan, he wrote the song “Hurricane” about Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a man wrongly convicted of a triple homicide. The song became a key part of Dylan’s “Desire” album and Dylan’s subsequent Rolling Thunder Revue, which Levy directed. The song was also credited with helping Carter get a new trial.

Born and raised in New York, Levy graduated from City College in 1956, and earned advanced degrees from Michigan State University. He was a professor in the English department at Colgate University since 1992 and head of the theater program at the time of his death.

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In 1966, he and Joseph Chaikin directed Jean-Claude van Itallie’s “America Hurrah.” The next year Levy directed Bruce Jay Friedman’s “Scuba Duba.”

He also taught directing and playwriting at New York University, Columbia and Yale.

Levy directed “The Bridge in Scarsdale” in 2002 and “Brecht on Brecht” in 2000. He and Jim Niesen directed “Exact Change” in 1999.

He is survived by his wife, Claudia; and a daughter, Maya, and son, Julien, both of Manhattan.


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