Don McManus | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Don McManus

Donald Leslie McManus, bass, actor (born 30 August 1932 in Edmonton, AB; died 24 February 2020 in Toronto, ON). While studying voice 1950-8 in Vancouver with Anna Nicholls and William Morton, he made his acting debut (1952) at TUTS. Dramatic and singing engagements followed with such organizations as the Vancouver International Festival (1958, Commendatore in Don Giovanni), the Bastion Theatre in Victoria, the Vancouver Opera, Melodyland in Berkeley, Cal, and the J.C. Williamson Theatre Co in Australia, which invited him to perform in several Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.

During three years 1962-5 in Australia he also served as stage director for two Sadler's Wells operetta productions for the Garnett Carrol Theatre Co. He has sung in Canada with the Calgary Philharmonic, Orchestra London, and the Vancouver, Victoria, and Windsor Symphony Orchestras. He was Black John MacDonald (1968, 1969, 1974, 1975, 1985) in Johnny Belinda at the Charlottetown Festival, where he also appeared in Mary Queen of Scots (1971, 1972) and Windsor (1978). His performance of 'Dick Dead-Eye' in the 1956 CBC TV production of H.M.S. Pinafore caught the attention of Herman Geiger-Torel and led to roles with the COC in Tosca (1957), Fidelio (1970), Macbeth (1971), the premiere of Heloise and Abelard (1973, as Fulbert), and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein (1976). In 1977 he sang with the COC touring company in The Barber of Seville and La Traviata; and in 1986 he appeared in the COC summer production of Kismet.

He first sang with Opera in Concert in 1974 (Claudius in Hamlet) and by 1991 had performed in seven of its subsequent productions. In a review (Opera Canada, vol 25, Summer 1984) of the premiere of COMUS Music Theatre's Nightbloom, Peter Dyson stated that '... McManus as Leopold Bloom... dominated the cast with his authoritative performance'. McManus also has been associated as actor, singer, and director in musical theatre productions at Rainbow Stage (1979, 1982) and, beginning in 1977, with a number of Toronto's Limelight Theatre shows.

McManus was formerly married to the soprano Marie Pendleton (b Toronto 24 Jun 1931, d 21 Sep 2006), who studied at the RCMT with Dorothy Allan Park. She sang with the COC, in Stratford and Guelph Festival opera performances, and in CBC TV productions.

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