Andrew Leynse, whose 21-year tenure as artistic director of the Off Broadway Primary Stages theater company has seen the production of works by such eminent playwrights as Terrence McNally, AR Gurney, Theresa Rebeck, Charles Busch and Donald Margulies, died on January 20 after a sudden illness. He was 53 years old.

“It is with endless sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Artistic Director, Andrew Leynse,” read a statement released by Primary Stages, which concluded: “Andrew’s dedication to playwrights and theater has launched dozens of careers and brought hundreds of new plays to life.His work has made an incredible and indelible contribution to American theater, and his vision and generosity will never be forgotten.

Leynse began her career at Primary Stages in a variety of different roles, including production manager and literary director, after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University’s filmmaking program. In 1999 he left Primary to work as Julian Schlossberg’s associate producer at Castle Hill Productions, where he developed over twenty productions on and off Broadway. Upon his return to the primary stages in 2001 as Artistic Director, he oversaw his moves to 59E59 Theaters, then to The Duke on 42nd Street, the Cherry Lane Theater and, most recently, his return to 59E59 Theaters.

Among the new works produced during his tenure at Primary Stages were those by Charles Busch The tribute artist and Lily Dare’s Confession; by Therese Rebeck Down and Bad behaviour; At Terrence McNally’s Stendhal’s syndrome and Dedication or The stuff of dreams; David Ives’ Everything in the timing and Lives of the saints; Donald Margulies’ The Model Apartment; several works by Horton Foote, including Divide the estate (two Tony nominations); AR Gurney The fourth wall and black tie; Michael McKeever Daniel’s husband; by Willy Holtzmann Sabine; Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter In the continuum; In transit by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth; Billy Porter As long as I still live; by Sharon Washington Feed the dragon; and that of Kate Hamill Pride and Prejudice and Little woman.

He is survived by his wife Mary Bacon, son Abadi Leynse, brother James Leynse, sister Anne Bullock and other extended family members. A memorial service for the wider theater community will be scheduled for a later date.

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