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Canadian playwright Greg Kramer dies at 51

North Stars
April 10, 2013

Canadian playwright Greg Kramer has died. The 51-year-old renaissance man (he was an actor, director, songwriter, and magician, according to the Globe and Mail) passed away on Monday, the day before his most high-profile play yet was set to start rehearsals.

Kramer was reportedly discovered at his apartment in Montreal after he failed to show up to rehearsals for "Sherlock Holmes," starring local actor Jay Baruchel in the titular role. Kramer was set to play Inspector Lestrade and rehearsals were shut down the day he was found.

"RIP Greg Kramer," tweeted Baruchel on Tuesday. "You will be missed and I will do my best to pay tribute to your words and the wonderful characters you put on the page."

Montreal police have reportedly ruled out foul play -- Kramer was HIV positive, had already fought cancer twice and had had one lung removed. He worked until the very end.

"The day he passed away, he e-mailed us a revised draft of the script,” said Paul Flicker, artistic producer at Montreal's Segal Centre for Performing Arts, where Kramer had directed before.

See also: Stars we lost in 2013 (PHOTOS)

Baruchel and the play's director, Andrew Shraver, reportedly resumed rehearsals on Tuesday, though the role of Lestrade has yet to be recast. “I don’t want to sound trite, but I think at this point the best thing we can do for him is to do the best we can with his show,” Flicker told the Globe.

A self-described "Canadian by choice," Kramer moved to Vancouver in 1981 from the U.K., where he was born. “[Funding for] the [Incubus Theatre] company I was with got axed completely after being in existence for 13 years, so I went to Vancouver,” he told the Montreal Gazette last year.

He moved to Toronto seven years later, then finally settled in Montreal in 1999 (though his website claims he was recently based in Ottawa as well) all the while juggling his careers in acting, directing and writing. He wrote three novels as well as a collection of short stories, "Hogtown Bonbons," based on a column he had in Xtra.

An actor with 29 roles under his belt, Kramer's last role was as "Mississippi Gene" in "On the Road" opposite Kristen Stewart. Prior to that, he was the voice of Nemo in the "Arthur" cartoons from 1999 to 2010 and also starred in the series "John Woo's Once a Thief" (as cleaner Mr. Murphy) and Screed in "Forever Knight." He also had small roles in "I'm Not There," "300" and "The Day After Tomorrow."

In 2008, Kramer won a Best Director MECCA award (Montreal English Critics Circle Awards) for directing "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Two years later he worked as a sleight of hand consultant on the Stratford Festival production of "The Tempest," starring Christopher Plummer.

“Plummer is incredible – an unbelievable professional,” Kramer said last year, adding, “But it wasn’t intimidating working with him, he was really friendly and very open. Given his age and how well he has kept himself, he is an inspiration.”

The same can be said for Kramer himself.

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