Obituary: Wilton Playshop Remembers Bernie Ryan, 96

Through the years, the Wilton Playshop has been a community organization bringing live theater to audiences and offering a wonderful creative outlet for the talented performers, set designers, stage managers, set builders, lighting designers, musicians and more from Wilton and surrounding communities.

Families have “grown up” in the Playshop as the love for live theater is passed from one generation to the next.

In January, the Wilton Playshop lost a longtime friend and member who was part of the Playshop family for many years, Bernard (Bernie) Ryan. Bernie passed away on Jan. 3, 2020 at the age of 96.

He began his decades long association with the Wilton Playshop in 1961, soon after he and his family moved to Wilton. His first role was on stage in a production of The Third Best Sport. He and his wife, Jean, became Lifetime Members of the Playshop, where they spent many days, nights and weekends working on and performing in productions. Their daughter, Nora, would often be with them as part of the Playshop family.

Bernie Ryan and Mary Jo Duffy entertain attendees at the Wilton Playshop’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2013.

Along with several roles onstage, Bernie served as president of the Playshop from 1966 to 1968 and was a member of the Board of Trustees for many years. He built sets, worked backstage, and raised funds for the theater. He was instrumental in raising the money to build the addition to the backstage area that helped provide room for props, sets, costumes and actors waiting in the wings.

Although Bernie and Jean moved out of town in 1992, they stayed in touch, and Bernie joined us for the 75th Anniversary celebration a few years back. Bernie was one of the many people who helped to build the foundation of the Wilton Playshop that continues to thrive in Wilton, and we are grateful for all of his support through the years.

Break a leg, Bernie, in your next production.