Anita Reeves – A tribute

Once more, Irish Theatre is bereft of an outstanding talent. Anita Reeves achieved star status in an amazingly unassuming manner. This was reflected in her “no nonsense performances” and her boundless affection for fellow artists.

Anita trained from a very early age in dance and performance. This was an invaluable springboard which led to full time training at the Brendan Smith Academy. Still in her early teens she appeared in the Abbey Theatre. Her first major appearances were in the iconic Gas Company Theatre, Dun Laoghaire in 1968 going on to star in Boeing-Boeing and the Irish premiere of The Knack. Even then her comedy timing was that of someone beyond her years.

A staunch member of Irish Equity for many years, Anita had genuine concern for her fellow performers. She was a delight to work with, dedicated, highly professional and with characteristic infectious enthusiasm.

Her catalogue of work is stunning. She was able to perform in the heaviest of “straight theatre” roles, in opera, musicals, pantomime and to sing and to dance with equal aplomb, a gift which is a reserve of few performers. In 1978, she starred in the Gate Theatre as Major Barbara – Micheál MacLiammoir’s last production.

Anita was an original member of the Irish Theatre Company in the early 1970s and went on to star in the Abbey Theatre on a regular basis until recently, appearing in a substantial canon of Irish classic theatre. Anita’s many film and television credits include Butcher Boy, Into the West, Ballroom of Romance, and Adam and Paul. She also featured in many RTE Radio plays, including War and Peace, Blooms of Dublin, and the daily serial, Southside.

I had the honour of working with Anita in several theatre and radio productions for nearly fifty years and, like so many others, shall miss her vitality and her talent but, most of all, the warmth of her friendship. Our prayers, thoughts and love, go out to Julian, Gemma and Danny.

Laurence Foster
8th July 2016.