Twin Cities actor and director Ross Young, a bright, funny figure who co-directed and starred in “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” — which ran for a combined seven-and-half years in two engagements in Minneapolis — is fighting for his life at a hospital.
Young went into cardiac arrest around lunchtime on Thursday, Aug. 6, at home in Crystal, Minn., according to Walt Will, his father-in-law.
“He was just sitting at his computer, checking something out, when he went down,” said Will, whose daughter, Deborah, has been married to Young for over 20 years. “Deb immediately called 9-1-1 and was given instruction to do compression. The ambulance was here very shortly after that and he was taken to North Memorial.”
Young (photographed by Bonni Allen) has been a key member of the tight-knit theater community in the Twin Cities and elsewhere for over three decades. He co-directed “Tony ‘n Tina” with Sandy Hey at the former Hey City Theatre on Hennepin Av. in Minneapolis, and played the male lead, Tony, in the interactive Italian wedding.
Young also staged the interactive comedy in Portland and Cleveland, where it ran for two years respectively, and in Baltimore and Salt Lake City, where the runs were shorter.
Young was teaching high school English when director Hey lured him to the stage with a community theater part in “Guys and Dolls.” He would subsequently acted in shows, including "Fixing Men — A Woman’s Guide to Home Repair" at the Brave New Workshop before moving into direction.
Young has developed a specialty with interactive productions, and works all across the country. His ailment came literally days after his latest production, “We Gotta Bingo,” opened at Chicago Theater Works in the Windy City.
“It’s devastating for someone so caring and dear and funny,” director and producer Hey. “Ross's only 53. We’ll pray and do whatever we can to keep him on this side of life.”
Twin Cities performers and directors have been keeping vigil at the hospital and helping out in whatever way they can, including by bringing food.The visitors include longtime friend Jim Cunningham, a comedic actor who also serves as an announcer for the Twins.
“Ross and I go back to our first show in fall 1986," said Cunningham. “In theater, you usually have intense friendships that last two or three months. The show that draws you together spills you apart. But Ross, Kevin Dutcher, Chris Whiting and I met in that show in fall 1986 and we’ve remained close ever since.”
The men have worked together many times since, including in a feast version of “A Christmas Carol,” “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridg’d),” the “It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play” done annually at the St. Paul Hotel, and a series of “Don’t Hug Me” shows.
“In my business, we're always asking people to bring it louder, faster, funnier," said Cunningham. "But on this, we're taking it slow. We’re asking people to pray for him, even if they don’t believe in prayer. It won’t hurt and might help.”
There has been a CaringBridge page set up for Young.