Bradley Mott, 64, died on October 10, 2020 in his Chicago Ravenswood Manor home, surrounded by his family, following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Mott, a longtime faculty member of The Columbia College Theatre Department, was a graduate of Northwestern University, and a beloved mentor for generations of theater students at Columbia College, where he taught alongside his wife, Susan Osborne-Mott. Chicago theatre critic Chris Jones wrote Mott’s obituary in the Tribune and observed, he was “a beloved Chicago actor as well known for the joy he dispensed onstage as for his antics and camaraderie behind the scenes.”
Mott made his professional debut in 1978 in the classic Oliver Goldsmith comedy “She Stoops to Conquer” at Chicago’s Court Theatre, and for the next 30 years delivered a string of delicious performances at most of the major theatres in the Chicago area, including Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Wisdom Bridge, National Jewish Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Writers Theatre, First Folio Theatre, and Chicago Children’s Theatre. Mott also worked extensively at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, where he appeared in the American premiere of the British comedy “Red Noses” as well as “Sunday in the Park with George”, “Galileo”, “The Government Inspector”, “Cyrano de Bergerac”, and “Curse of the Starving Class” (alongside John Malkovich). He was especially well known for his portrayal of jovial Mr. Fezziwig in Goodman’s annual production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. He continued to play Fezziwig to perfection when he relocated to New Jersey, appearing in the role at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. Mott went on to play the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2002. In 1998, he was the stiffest of butlers in “You Can’t Take it With You” at Drury Lane Theatre, and was the quintessential Rude Mechanical in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream." At Chicago Children’s Theatre, Mott played Toad in “A Year with Frog and Toad.” He was very adept with the comedies of Moliere. Generations of Goodman Tiny Tims found him to be a riot. One of Mott’s favorite war stories from the stage was about showing up naked during a Goodman Theatre production of “Galileo," all in a successful attempt to make the late Brian Dennehy laugh. Columbia College Theatre Department student and colleague, Tony Award-winning director David Cromer, who cast Mott as Kris Kringle, said: “Bradley Mott was a delicious artist and a delicious person.”
His other significant stage credits included Sir Toby Belch in Court Theatre’s staging of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, Bottom in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Court, and two Joseph Jefferson Award-nominated performances in musicals, as Alfred P. Doolittle (“I’m Getting Married in the Morning”) in Court Theatre’s “My Fair Lady” and Pseudolus in Drury Lane’s production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”. At the Columbia College Theatre Department, he appeared as a guest artist in two Mainstage Season productions, working alongside his students in the vintage comedy “The Man Who Came to Dinner” under the direction of the woman who would become his wife. His professional costars in that show were Frank Farrell and future Tony Award winners Laurie Metcalf and Rondi Reed. Mott also appeared in former Theatre Department chair Sheldon Patinkin‘s staging of the Cole Porter musical “Kiss Me, Kate” at Columbia, and also directed all-student productions of the classic comedies “The Recruiting Officer” and “You Can’t Take It With You”.
His film credits include roles in “The Accidental Tourist”, “Meet the Applegates”, and “Inside Llewyn Davis”, as well as the TV-movie remake of “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” starring Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave.
“Brad Mott was a great collaborator, artist and educator,” says Columbia Theatre Department Associate Chair Susan Padveen. “His former students loved him because of his talent as a teacher but also because he cared about them as human beings; he was also the person you always wanted to have in the room with you. When I close my eyes, I hear his laugh, open them and see that amazingly impish smile. He will be missed. but never forgotten.”
Mott is survived by his wife, Susan Osborne-Mott; his daughter, Emily Mott Zeimetz (Columbia College alum ’08, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Musical Theatre); and their son, Andrew Mott (former student in Columbia’s Cultural Studies program).