CRAIG DUDLEY- TETCNY Artistic Director 1945-2023
We first met in 2007 when I auditioned and was cast as Malvolio in the Tri-State Theatre production of TWELFTH NIGHT (directed by Paul Meachum ).
Just prior to rehearsals, I saw there was a phone message for me on my answering machine . Playing it, there was this very theatrical booming voice :
"HELL-OOOOO, Kevin ,deah boy . It's me. Craig! I am so looking forward to working with you again in TWELFTH NIGHT. Talk to you soon ,deah boy. "
The odd thing was, we had NEVER worked together.
I was a bit confused , but I called the person back.
After a while, we figured out he was talking about the wonderful actor /writer Kevin Shinick .
Still, with this first phone call, we hit it off ,with a shared interest in classic theatre as well as horror films.
Indeed, he had bought several issues of SCARLET STREET magazine, to which I was a writer/contributor/researcher.
Our first rehearsal, the entire cast clicked superbly, and the production was very well received, both in reviews and large receptive audiences.
Craig was a magnificent Sir Toby Belch. That ,I discovered , was no surprise, as every performance Craig took part in , he was magnificent .
Kevin as Malvolio , Craig to the right as Sir Toby Belch, TWELFTH NIGHT ,TriState Actors Theatre
Craig Dudley was born on 22 January 1945 in Sheepshead Bay, NYC, New York, USA.
Craig's First major Headshot
Among the various theatres he performed were
1 person show CROWN OF KINGS
Coconut Grove Playhouse
(photo courtesy of Kevin Shinick )
(A MacBeth , set among the cutthroat world of the fast food industry, with Craig a faux
However, Craig was also very popular as a model, appearing in magazines and a popular subject for various photographers.
CRAIG appeared in AFTER DARK magazine several times, and was photographed by
many of the top photographers of the 1960s-1980s .
Craig on the cover of a magazine that was more Dr Ruth than salacious.
He was also very proud of the fact that he was MR FIRE ISLAND two years running, the second time winning when he wasn't even in competition , but just showing up ! Among the people people who posed in the contest was a very young Lou Ferrigno (later tv's INCREDIBLE HULK) .
He liked to work , and he liked to have fun. If both could be combined, all the better.
Due to his physique, he was quite in demand for shows like ZOU as well.
https://fb.watch/mcGm3L0XVw/ CRAIG in ZOU
He even appeared in the early Gay film STICKS & STONES (1970) . A low budget film that was more sappy soap than sex film as the ads promised, the film was mostly improvised by the cast. Still , it has achieved a sort of cult status.
He was most happy , though , when he was on stage in plays and musicals .
He worked with the likes of Maggie Smith , Robert Foxworth , and William Hutt , and was friends with the likes of Richard Burton and Sir Derek Jacobi . He was also very good friends with playwright Tennessee Williams .
( here is a link to an interview with Craig )
CRAIG DUDLEY and his good friend TENNESSEE WILLIAMS in Brighton, England
Indeed , Sir Derek Jacobi became an honorary member of TETCNY and was our guest of honor at our fundraiser . Other friends of Craig's who lent their names and support to TETCNY were Brian Bedford , Brian Murray , Eli Wallach , and producers Rick Hobard and John L Haber .
In March , 2015 , TETCNY made their debut with John Gay's DIVERSIONS & DELIGHTS. The play was the first Actor's Equity production of the beautiful play about Oscar Wilde produced in New York City in 30 years. CRAIG worked very hard on the part , and the reviews and audience responses rewarded all his hard work.
Later we did a semi staged reading of THE DRESSER, wherein he made a superlative Sir.
Time was lost dealing with producers ,who had good intent , to bring DIVERSIONS & DELIGHTS to the U.K. for a tour , as well as various theatres around the U.S. who had expressed an interest in our production.
Then , of course, COVID paralyzed the world , and time was lost there .
Another bit of time was lost , dealing with a producer who pulled out at the last minute early this year (discussed in another blog post) for personal reasons. It forced us into a major fundraising drive to try and get our next planned production upon it's feet.
He also produced a wonderful documentary on SIR DEREK JACOBI called
DEREK JACOBI-THE MAN WITH THE RAINBOW COLORED MIND . In it, he has interviews with the likes of SIR KENNETH BRANAGH, SIR PATRICK STEWART , and many mores. It was partially filmed by his beloved sister Debra Bellera. We tried to get some distributor to pick it up, but to no avail. Therefore, CRAIG made it available to view for FREE on YouTube :
He was quite proud of being related to Adventurer Paul Boyton .
He enjoyed the educational aspects of our theatre, appearing to speak to students and talking at length on a variety of subjects.
Teacher James Anthony Phillips introduces CRAIG DUDLEY to his CUNY Kingsborough class
Sadly, a while back, Craig was diagnosed with cancer. He began to lose weight . He had always been very health conscious, always tried to eat healthy , exercised often , and had never smoked ,drank excessively or done drugs . He withdrew , as he didn't want to bother people with his illness, keeping about him a small circle of friends and family. He was preparing for the inevitable, selling off some collectibles given to him (a suit given to him by Sir Laurence Oliver was sold to a woman in Spain) , others given away to friends and family members.
I did not know how seriously he was ill . He would say when we spoke that he was just a bit tired, or didn't feel like going to certain things. This should have been a bigger clue to me , as Craig was very much a people person, who, with little effort , was the center of attention of any gathering .
Finally, on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 , at 8 pm E.S.T. , he shuffled off this mortal coil, surrounded by a few friends and family members, going , knowing that it was with love.
There is talk of a tribute memorial for CRAIG DUDLEY to take place sometime soon, hopefully in September , 2023.
He has been cremated , and will be interred in the grave in Tennessee that also contains the remains of his beloved late sister, Debra Bellera , and their mother .
I cannot thank SHANNON ROBERTS and ERIC ANDREWS enough for all the information that they has shared with me , as well as being a superlative friends and care givers to Craig in the last few years. We should all be so lucky as to have friends as loyal as them.
(Shannon Roberts, CRAIG, and artist Eric Andrews at his Gallery Showing in Manhattan,2022)
I was very lucky for 16 years to call CRAIG DUDLEY one of my closest friends, a sometimes infuriating strongly opinionated creative gadfly , a marvelous creative collaborator .
HAMLET Act 5 Scene 2 -Horatio :
“Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”.
-Kevin G Shinnick
BROADWAY WORLD announcement :