Hearts were saddened throughout the Nashville and Franklin theater communities January 14 when we learned of the sudden passing of Marianne Clark, beloved actress, director, teacher, and friend. The word spread quickly through social media, with an outpouring of love from the many whose lives she had touched all across Middle Tennessee over several decades.
Marianne had worked with various theater groups in the Nashville area including Boiler Room, Chaffin’s Barn, Circle Players, Lakewood Theatre, The Renaissance Center and Towne Centre Theatre. At one time she founded her own theater, Nashville Playhouse, but more than once referred to Pull-Tight as the place she called home.
She was first cast by Peggy Macpherson in 1985 to play a leading role in Cactus Flower, for which she won an award for Best Female Lead. Subsequent Pull-Tight performances included roles in The Female Odd Couple (twice), You Can’t Take it With You (both versions), Hello, Dolly! (awarded Best Female Lead), Steel Magnolias (twice, and awarded Best Female Featured for one), On Golden Pond, Lost in Yonkers, Moon Over Buffalo, and Bye Bye Birdie (first version). Finally, we had the pleasure of seeing her in both Dashing through the Snow and The Trip to Bountiful during the 2013-2014 season, with her taking home the Best Actress in a Leading Role award for Bountiful at the Knot Awards Banquet.
She directed the award-winning shows Annie and Guys & Dolls (first version). She directed Annie Warbucks, All My Sons, Catch Me If You Can, Kiss Me Kate, and See How They Run, and was in the midst of directing the current show, Suite Surrender. She had in fact just led the cast through an energetic rehearsal on Sunday before becoming ill that night, making this an especially difficult time for her cast and crew, many of whom number among Marianne’s most enduring friendships.
Marianne served on the Board of Directors and as its President and on various committees throughout the years, presented workshops for the Youth Actors Guild, and was awarded Pull-Tight’s Hall of Fame Award during the 2000-2001 Season.
Marianne was truly one of a kind. She threw herself with energy and fearlessness into anything she took on. Onstage you could not keep your eyes off of her and she was beloved to audiences. Many of Pull-Tight’s directors will gladly tell you they learned most of what they know about directing from her. She knew that putting on a play required the talents of many and was quick to give credit where credit was due. She was a multitalented woman who also excelled at decorating a home or cooking up food to entertain a crowd. She was a loving wife to Ray, adoring mother and grandmother to her three daughters and two grandsons, and a faithful friend.
Whether she was telling you to pick up the pace because she “could have driven a Mack truck between those lines,” or regaling you with stories of when she dated George Hamilton, she was riveting, delightful, and someone you would never forget.
On the night of Wednesday, January 14 many of us joined her cast and crew at the theater, shared memories, said prayers, and then circled up and passed the energy to Marianne. Godspeed to our dear friend.