Steven Neal Barton (June 26, 1954 – July 21, 2001) was an American actor, singer, dancer, teacher, choreographer, and stage director, who worked in English and German-language productions.
Steven Neal Barton was born on June 26, 1954, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the youngest of three children of Tom and Mary Barton. He was raised in Nederland, Texas.
He won a scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin (UT), where he majored in theater, dance and voice, and appeared in over 30 productions with UT and the Ballet of Austin. A UT endowed Presidential Scholarship is now named for him. After graduation he went to Europe and landed his first professional role in St. Gallen, Switzerland, then performed in several major Swiss, German and Austrian theater companies.
He played leading roles in West Side Story, Godspell, Romeo and Juliet, The Fantasticks, The Threepenny Opera, Oklahoma!, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Guys and Dolls, and Camelot, before playing the role of Munkustrap in the original Vienna cast of Cats, at the Theater an der Wien. At the Theater des Westens in Berlin he played roles in Guys and Dolls, Jesus Christ Superstar (as Jesus), La Cage aux Folles (as both Jean Michel and Albin/Zaza) and Robert in Company. In 1986 he originated the role of Raoul in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera in London, and in 1988 reprised that role in the original Broadway cast.
Barton was married to swing dancer and choreographer Denny Berry, who served as dance supervisor for the North American productions of The Phantom of the Opera, whom he met at college. A son, Edward, was born in Vienna in 1984; the couple separated at an unspecified later date. He was an Honorary Chairperson of the Steadman Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation and an honorary member of the UTA Board of Education.
In 1996 Barton returned to Vienna, where he took over the part of the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In his final project, he originated the role of Graf von Krolock, a vampire in Jim Steinman’s Tanz der Vampire, for which he won an IMAGE (International Music Award Germany) in 1998. Barton celebrated his 30-year onstage anniversary in 1997 during his run as von Krolock.
Barton had, in the last years of his life, been battling with alcoholism and addiction to painkillers following chronic knee problems and had, only months before his death, started treatment for bipolar disorder. He was found dead at his apartment in Bremen, Germany on July 21, 2001 aged 47. While his death was initially attributed to heart failure, according to obituary information released by the press office for the New York production of The Phantom of the Opera, it was later ruled a suicide by the district attorney in Bremen after an empty bottle of prescription heart medication was found at the scene.
The Phantom of the Opera, Original Cast, (1986 in London; 1988 in New York), as Raoul and as The Phantom (from March to October 1990)
The Red Shoes, as Boris Lermontov, (1993)
Cats, 1983 and 1984, in Vienna, Austria, (as Munkustrap/Dance Captain)
The Phantom of the Opera, 1986, in London, UK, (as Raoul)
Die Schöne und das Biest, 1996/97 in Vienna, Austria, (as Biest/Prinz)
Tanz der Vampire, 1997 – 1999 in Vienna, Austria, (as Graf von Krolock)
The Phantom of the Opera, 1990 and 1991, Los Angeles, (as Raoul)
The Anastasia Affaire, 1991 and 1992, (as Prince Paul)
Six Wives, 1993, (as Henry VIII)
Der Glöckner von Notre Dame, 1993, (as Quasimodo)
Kiss Me, Kate, 1994, (as Fred Graham and Petruchio), Goodspeed Opera House, CT
Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, (as Sweeney Todd), Jan. and Feb. 1996, in Pittsburgh
Let’s Do It, a new A. R. Gurney Show with Cole Porter music and lyrics which workshopped at the Long Wharf Theater, New Haven, CT, USA, April and May 1996, (as Nick Cameron, alias the Count of Luxemburg).