Ashton Springer, who produced plays ranging from “No Place to Be Somebody” to the Tony-nominated “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” died of pneumonia Monday in Mamaroneck, N.Y. He was 82.
Springer was one of the first African-Americans to bring plays and musicals by black artists to Broadway, and his 1977 all-black revival of “Guys and Dolls” was also Tony-nominated.
“Bubbling Brown Sugar” ran for just 12 performance at its first in 1975, featuring the music of Harlem Renaissance artists like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. In 1976 it moved to the ANTA Theater for a nearly two year run.
Among other productions he shepherded were 1978 revue “Eubie!” about the music of Eubie Blake; musical “Going Up,” comedy “Unexpected Guests” and Ronald Ribman play “Cold Storage.”His other Broadway productions included “Whoopee!,” Athol Fugard’s “A Lesson From Aloes” and “Inacent Black.”
Off-Broadway, he staged “Rollin’ on the TBS” and general managed a 2000 revival of “For Colored Girls…”
He began his career as a musician with the Four Aces before starting out on Broadway with a revival of “No Place to Be Somebody,” which led him to become interested in the audience potential for black-oriented plays.
He is survived by a sister and two sons.