Jane Blass cast off this mortal coil on Aug 8, 2021, after a lengthy struggle with stomach cancer.
A Jackson TN native and graduate of Union University and the University of Tennessee, Blass’ time on the stage as performer, singer, and comedian reads like a history of Chicago, Broadway and regional theater of the last 30 years. From her time in Chicago with the Sweat Girls, to national tours of “Hairspray” and “9 to 5”, to “Gypsy” at Ravinia with the CSO alongside Patti LuPone, to Broadway’s “Annie The Musical” atop a Macy’s Parade float.
Blass’ career includes virtually every Chicago storefront, mid-range, and large theater; a long list of NY Broadway houses and regional theaters; and a Who’s Who of Broadway musicals, including (but by no mean limited to) “9 to 5," "Hairspray," “Gypsy” with Patti Lupone, “Into the Woods," “Beggar Woman” with Richard Chamberlain, “Oklahoma!”, “Mary Poppins,” “Mr Confidential,” “Annie The Musical,” “Southern Baptist Sissies,” “Sister Act,” “Kinky Boots,” “Oliver!”, and “Wizard of Oz.” As a talented working actor with the ability to harness a myriad of powerful - often hysterical - “looks” Blass had her share of commercial work, including a photo shoot alongside David Bowie.
Often cast in supporting roles, Blass always stole the show and never missed a glowing mention in reviews of shows where she was featured. As Margaret in the National Tour of “9 to 5,” Barbara Bush specifically requested that she be in the group photo with herself and the stars, saying “I want the drunk!”
Dorothy Milne, longtime friend and collaborator with Blass on the famed Chicago comedic institution the Sweat Girls, had this to say: “Jane was tall & a bit of drawl, more than a bit of talent, a superb singer, a marvelous storyteller - and oh, she was a presence! In her work with and beyond the Sweat Girls - from intimate houses to Broadway - she sparkled. Beyond the work, Jane was also an exceptional friend to many (& we mean many) friends.”
A director that worked with her offered this memory: “Jane was so perfect in every way — of course funny, but with so much heart and vulnerability. She was such a bright light. The industry definitely feels quite a bit dimmer today.”
Blass leaves behind a devoted father, Dr Joseph Blass, untold numbers of colleagues who respected her work, and friends-without-number who will dearly miss her light and laughter.