Larry Arrick, a theater and television director and producer, and a visiting professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 1997 and again in 2002–03, died Sept. 21, 2020, from complications from previous strokes. Arrick died at home in Los Angeles. He was 92.
As a visiting assistant professor in the 2002–03 theater season at UCLA TFT, he directed third-year M.F.A. students in a production of Christopher Durang’s “The Marriage of Bette and Boo,” while his wife, UCLA TFT adjunct associate professor April Shawhan, directed Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud Nine.”
“We wanted to choose plays that were different in acting styles and would be able to give students the opportunity to play challenging roles in two different plays,” Arrick told the Daily Bruin at the time. “It forces the students to mold themselves and act in two plays with drastically different styles.”
In 1997, Professor Emeritus Mel Shapiro asked Arrick to direct second-year M.F.A. students in a production of “Journey of the Fifth Horse,” 35 years after directing a then-unknown Dustin Hoffman in the play’s world premiere, which was televised.
Born in New York City, Arrick grew up in Brooklyn. He began his theater career at the age of 16 as an actor in a summer stock company. One of his first directing gigs was as a director of the Compass Players and Second City improvisational cabarets in Chicago, New York and London. Company members at the time included Elaine May, Mike Nichols, Barbara Harris and Shelly Berman. In 1968, he directed the Terrence McNally play “Sweet Eros” off-Broadway at the Gramercy Theatre. For the National Theater of the Deaf, he directed “Gilgamesh” in 1972 and “Parade” in 1975.
In 1984, he directed 10 deaf and two hearing actors in the National Theatre of the Deaf’s production of “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” for the International Olympic Arts Festival, which took place on the UCLA campus during the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Arrick’s influence as a theater professional was widely felt. With Barbara Damashek, he founded Brown University’s Trinity Rep Conservatory in 1978. He was the artistic director of Pittsburgh Public Theater from 1982 to 1984, where he directed productions of “A History of the American Film” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.” At the Denver Center Theatre Company, he directed Jean Anouilh’s “Antigone.” He directed the New York premieres of Edward Albee’s “The Death of Bessie Smith,” Jean Genet’s “The Maids” and the American premiere of Eugene Ionesco’s “The Chairs.” Arrick was also a director at the Yale Repertory Theatre and Trinity Square Repertory Company.
For television, Arrick produced a number of series, including “East Side/West Side,” which starred George C. Scott, and staged the musical special starring Linda Lavin, “Linda in Wonderland.”
In addition to UCLA TFT, Arrick was an instructor at numerous universities, including Yale, Bard College, Bennington College, Princeton and Carnegie-Mellon.