Cover photo for André Bruce Ward's Obituary
André Bruce Ward Profile Photo
1938 André 2022

André Bruce Ward

January 8, 1938 — February 15, 2022

Moscow, Tennessee

If there was ever a gentleman who exemplified and created magic and loved all things beautiful, it was André Bruce Ward. And the likes of André will never pass this way again is truly an understatement.

André died peacefully at his home on February 14, 2022 at the age of 84. Andre was born on January 8, 1938 to Agnes (née Bruce) and Brahm Ward in Flint, Michigan.

The theatre bugs bites people at different times in their lives. For André, the bite came when he was a teenager working backstage at Buick “industrial show” in his hometown of Flint, Michigan in the 1950’s. In those days “industrials” were top-quality musical productions used by major corporations to introduce new products to their dealers featuring Broadway talent and production values. Working as a wardrobe assistant, André was fascinated by the glittering costumes, intoxicated by the backstage excitement. This, he decided was for him.

But his ”industrial” brush with Broadway convinced André that he wanted to pursue theatrical design as a career, so he headed to Sarasota, Florida to the esteemed Ringling College of Art and Design. Here he studied not only art history, life drawing, color and design, but also costume construction and sewing.

While a student at Ringling, he worked wardrobe on a traveling show and met the producer who, impressed with André’s work, offered him a job on graduation. So with BFA in hand he headed north to New Hampshire to design costumes at a summer stock theatre, the New London Players.

In 1960, André designed the costumes for Vincent, the first of several Off-Broadway shows he was to dress. By then he was also regularly employed in the costume department of the New York City Opera, where refitted and repaired elaborate operatic costumes created by he major designers of the period.

When he was offered a position as costumer at the Virginia Museum Theatre in Richmond, he was happy to get the opportunity to design a season of plays, musicals and ballet. But after eight years, Richmond’s loss became Theatre Memphis’ gain.

In his 40 amazing years at Theatre Memphis, André designed over 225 productions, with over 500 in his lifetime. Each production benefitted from his rich imagination, his loving attention to detail, his pure theatrical sense. And everyone he has worked with has enjoyed his wit, his generous spirit, his deep appreciation and affection for all things theatrical. A true heartbeat of Theatre Memphis and Memphis theatre, André left his mark on our community.

When André first arrived at Theatre Memphis in 1977, he thought he would be at TM for two to three years and then move on. He fell in love with Theatre Memphis, the Memphis community and the quality of life he could have here. He realized that he had found his artistic home and he could help establish Theatre Memphis’ reputation for the most outstanding production values of any theatre in the region. His vision for costume artistry garnered Theatre Memphis, our state of Tennessee and himself many awards and a stellar reputation across the nation.

His commitment to community theatre and to excellence set a standard still held today by Theatre Memphis. He was an exceptional gentleman who earned the utmost respect not only of his colleagues, but also of our community at large. He endeared himself to everyone he met, costumed and worked with throughout his ongoing, stellar career. He was the ultimate ambassador for community theatre and Theatre Memphis.

André is survived by his sister, Sherrie Brennan (Ted) of Atlanta, GA, special niece, Andrea Burak (Phil) of Flint, MI and his cherished friend Ken Usery of Moscow, TN. André was predeceased by his parents and sister, Janet Ann Huffman, as well as his other loving friend, Jack Kendall.

A memorial and celebration of life gathering will take place at Theatre Memphis in the spring. Memorials may be made to Theatre Memphis, 630 Perkins Ext., Memphis, TN  38117.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of André Bruce Ward, please visit our flower store.

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