Chase Mishkin, Tony-Winning Producer of ‘Dame Edna,’ Dies at 85

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Ms. Mishkin endured failures like “Prymate,” about the battle for control over an aging gorilla between an anthropologist and geneticist, and “Urban Cowboy,” a 2003 a musical adaptation of the 1980 film about a Texas honky-tonk.

In 2003, Ms. Mishkin and other producers decided that “Urban Cowboy” — devastated by bad reviews, a four-day musicians’ strike, the start of the war in Iraq and dismal ticket sales — would close after its fourth performance. But as Lonny Price, who directed the musical, walked to the stage to say goodbye to the audience, he encountered Ms. Mishkin backstage.

“She said, ‘We’re not closing,’ and I said, ‘What did you say?’” he recalled in a phone interview. “She said, ‘I’ve decided not to close the show,’ and I said, ‘May I say that?’ And she said, ‘Go ahead.’ And she funded the show for the rest of its run.”

The musical stayed alive — it got two Tony nominations — but closed after 60 performances.

“When business didn’t pick up, she reluctantly closed the show,” Mr. Price said.

She was just as persistent with Mark Medoff’s 2004 play, “Prymate.” At its center was a Black actor, André De Shields, as Graham, a 350-pound gorilla. Wearing a baggy T-shirt and shorts, Mr. De Shields grunted, screeched and scooted about onstage and, in one notorious scene, was masturbated by a sign-language interpreter.

Faced with poor reviews and ticket sales, Ms. Mishkin bought an advertisement in The New York Times that urged theatergoers to see the play, which also starred Phyllis Frelich, James Naughton and Heather Tom. “Come Be Engrossed!” she wrote. But it closed after five performances.

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