Was Broadway's original Mother Abbess in 'Sound of Music'
Patricia Neway, who played the Mother Abbess in the original Broadway production of “The Sound of Music,” winning a Tony for featured actress during a career of appearances on Broadway and especially the New York City Opera, died of natural causes on Jan. 24 in East Corinth, Vt. She was 92.
She starred most notably in the 1950 Broadway production of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s “The Consul,” one of the few operas composed for the Rialto and later a standard part of the opera repertory. She also performed the role of Magda Sorel, the wife of a rebel in a totalitarian state, in London, Paris and on tour in Europe.
Neway first appeared on Broadway in 1942 in Offenbach’s “La Vie Parisienne” and then in 1949 in Benjamin Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia.” In 1958 she returned to the Rialto in another Menotti work, “Maria Golvin.”
She appeared the next year in “The Sound of Music” — and though Neway played the Mother Superior, she was six years younger than Mary Martin, the actress who starred as Maria von Trapp.
Also in 1959, Neway starred in a revival of “The Consul” at the City Center; a video of the performance was released on DVD decades later.
“The Sound of Music” turned out to be her last effort on Broadway; she also forayed into Rodgers and Hammerstein with a performance as Lady Thiang in “The King and I” at Lincoln Center in 1964 and in a 1967 production of “Carousel” for ABC.
Neway performed in many productions at New York City Opera, continuing her opera career until the mid-1970s.
Born in Brooklyn, Neway studied voice at the Mannes College of Music.
She is survived by a number of nieces and nephews.