It was with great sadness that the Stratford Shakespeare Festival learned of the passing of Domini Blythe on Wednesday, December 15. Ms Blythe was a member of the Festival’s acting company for 11 seasons over a 30-year period between 1976 and 2006.
“Perhaps the most beautiful actress of her generation, Domini Blythe met a young Richard Monette in England as they performed in Oh! Calcutta!,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Richard was wise enough to ensure it was a life-long friendship. Domini came to Canada and ultimately made it her home. She was a resourceful actress who played a wide variety of roles in the Shakespearean canon. It was my great pleasure to direct her as Maria with William Hutt as Feste in our 2001 production of Twelfth Night. Her vitality and impish humour made rehearsals a joy.”
“Domini was a magnificent actor and a luminescent beauty. I have long admired her work, and I take comfort in the knowledge that her legacy continues here in Stratford with the many artists that she mentored over the years,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “She will be missed by hundreds of theatre artists and many thousands of theatre patrons.
Domini first joined the Festival company in 1976 to play leading roles in The Way of the World, The Merchant of Venice and Antony and Cleopatra. In 1978, she appeared in the Festival’s very first production of Titus Andronicus. Antoni and I plan to dedicate this year’s production of Titus Andronicus to the memory of Domini.”
Ms Blythe last appeared on the Stratford stage in 2006 when she played Mistress Quickly in Henry VI Part 1, directed by former Artistic Director Richard Monette, and that same year she staged her one-woman show Fanny Kemble at the Studio Theatre. Most recently she appeared as Judge Evelyn Rowe in the 2010 television movie The Ties that Bind. She also starred as Mrs. Danvers in the 2009 award-winning Canadian comedy The Trotsky.
Ms Blythe played many leading roles at Stratford, including Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest with William Hutt, directed by former Artistic Director Robin Phillips; the title role in Miss Julie; Marwood in The Way of the World; Sorel in Hay Fever; Celia in As You Like It; Lavinia in Titus Andronicus; Rosaline in Love’s Labour’s Lost; Desdemona in Othello; Margery Pinchwife in The Country Wife; Elmire in Tartuffe; Mrs. Shankland and Sybil in Separate Tables; Portia in The Merchant of Venice; Gertrude in Hamlet; The Countess in All’s Well that Ends Well; Frau Lehzen in The Swanne; Mamita in Gigi; Liz Essendine in Present Laughter; and Goneril in King Lear opposite Christopher Plummer.
This production of King Lear toured to New York and garnered two Tony nominations. She also played leading roles in Richard II and Richard III with the Royal Shakespeare Company, appeared on NBC’s Search for Tomorrow and played one of the leads in the CTV series Mount Royal.
Ms Blythe died of lung cancer and she is survived by her husband, Jean Beaudin; her father, Richard Blythe; her brother, Ben Blythe, sister-in-law Andrea Schlieker and their two children Lily and Phinn. A funeral service will be announced at a later date.