Deaf West tribute for ‘Children of a Lesser God’ star Phyllis Frelich

Phyllis Frelich with Bob Steinberg, left, and Mark Medoff in 2001.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Phyllis Frelich, the Tony Award-winning star of “Children of a Lesser God” who died this year at 70, will be memorialized by Los Angeles’ Deaf West Theatre at the Mark Taper Forum. The memorial, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for Oct. 20.

The memorial will include appearances by “Children” playwright Mark Medoff and Frelich’s co-star John Rubinstein. The play opened at the Taper in 1979 and later transferred to Broadway, where it won three Tonys.

Frelich appeared in a number of Deaf West productions during her career, including “The Gin Game” in 1990 and the company’s Broadway run of “Big River” in 2003. The deaf actress, who lived in Temple City, died in April from progressive supranuclear palsy.


“Phyllis was a beloved figure within the deaf community, and it felt appropriate that we host a service,” said Deaf West Theatre artistic director David J. Kurs, in a statement.

The memorial will also feature appearances by actress Linda Bove; Deaf West Theatre founding artistic director Ed Waterstreet; and Bernard Bragg, a founder of the National Theatre of the Deaf.

Frelich was married to scenic designer Robert Steinberg, who has also worked on Deaf West productions.

A new revival of “Children of a Lesser God” is aiming for Broadway in the 2015-16 season. Medoff’s play follows the stormy relationship between a young deaf woman and a hearing teacher who has arrived at the school where she works.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT