Phil Morton, a member of the Twin Cities theater community for 40 years, has died at age 64. The St. Paul playwright, director and actor brought several of his short plays to community theater fests, the Minnesota Fringe Festival and Gremlin Theatre. In 1972, he helped establish Variety Hall Theatre in St. Paul, directing and acting in several shows. Three years later, Paul Mathey joined Morton and changed the troupe’s name to Park Square. The company is now celebrating its 35th season.

Morton also performed in summer stock at Bemidji and Duluth.

"He was a brilliant actor," said Mathey, who considered Morton his best friend. "And there was not a better resource than Phil if you wanted an opinion on what play to see."

In recent years, Morton was unable to act because of diabetes. He wrote many shows for the Minnesota Fringe Festival and his latest play, "Casanova Gets It" just finished a run at the Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis.

"He got into a lot of fun things in the last ten years," said Jon Skaalen, another friend. "Writing seemed to revive him creatively since he couldn’t act anymore."

Morton is survived by daughter Lisette Morton (husband, Hugh Kaufman) of Washington D.C.; granddaughter, Elissa Kaufman of Lesotho; mother Gladys Morton of St. Paul; and special friend Jeanie Cullen of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. There will be a celebration at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Minnesota Humanities Center, 987 E. Ivy Av., St. Paul.


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