Dana Krueger Grossman, actress, singer, Helen Hayes Award winner, dies at 74

July 25, 2014

Dana Krueger Grossman, an actress and singer who won a Helen Hayes Award as the star of the musical “Wings,” playing an aircraft pilot and wing-walker suffering from severe emotional problems after a stroke, died July 12 at a hospital in Rockville, Md. She was 74.

The cause was cardiac arrest, said her daughter, Abigail Grossman.

In a stage career spanning more than three decades, Mrs. Grossman — known professionally as Dana Krueger — appeared in dozens of roles at such regional venues as Arena Stage, Signature Theatre, the Kennedy Center and Olney Theatre. She also performed on stages in New York, Hollywood, Houston and Baltimore.

The work for which she is best remembered was in the 1994 Signature Theatre production of “Wings,” with music by Jeffrey Lunden, and book and lyrics by Arthur Perlman. It was based on an earlier drama by Arthur Kopit.

“Onstage virtually throughout the 90-minute, intermissionless show, this gray-haired, unexceptional-looking woman in the baggy pants and shirt conjures up a universe of emotions, a sky full of stars, and a range of sensations by means of her lustrous voice, impeccable articulation and chameleonic countenance,” reviewer Pamela Sommers wrote in The Washington Post.

“Playing a woman robbed of her communicative powers, Krueger finds myriad ways to express Emily’s anger, bewilderment and, ultimately, hope,” Sommers added.

Mrs. Grossman sang in staged works by Gian Carlo Menotti, Thomas Pasatieri and Peter Schickele (sometimes known as P.D.Q. Bach), and she was a supporting singer in a 1986 Washington Opera production of “Christopher Columbus,” a pastiche created around the music of Jacques Offenbach.

At the Kennedy Center in 1984, Mrs. Grossman sang in “A Quiet Place,” an opera by Leonard Bernstein. In Baltimore, she was a soloist in a 10th-anniversary performance of Bernstein’s Mass, and she also sang in his opera “Candide.”

In a 1999 Arena Stage revival of the 1930s Clare Boothe Luce comedy “The Women,” Mrs. Grossman portrayed “Mrs. Morehead,” whose daughter is married to a man having an affair.

Dana Krueger was born in Washington on April 6, 1940. She grew up in Arlington and graduated in 1957 from Washington-Lee High School. She graduated in 1961 from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.

As a young woman, she studied voice with Todd Duncan, the Washington singer who in 1935 sang Porgy in the Broadway premiere of “Porgy and Bess,” the folk opera by George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward.

Mrs. Grossman lived in Washington with her husband of 48 years, Milton Grossman. Survivors also include a daughter, Abigail Grossman of Chevy Chase, Md.; and a sister Ellen Krueger Seisel of New York City.

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