The Stratford Festival announced that Neville, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, died in Toronto on Saturday, surrounded by his family.
John Neville’s name is intrinsically linked to Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, as one of the pioneers of the regional along with Joe Shoctor and Margaret Mooney. He is well-known in British, Ontario and Nova Scotia theatre circles, and he achieved some celebrity via the X-Files and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988).
Here is a selection of obituaries from around the web marking Mr. Neville’s passing.
With the death of John Neville, at 86, this past weekend, Canadian theatre has lost one of its true luminaries and its real characters — and a man with an innate sense of what it means to connect to the place where you live, and change it.
Tall, handsome and authoritative on the stage… he was often thought of as the natural successor to John Gielgud.
… Mr. Neville was an unlikely candidate to become a Shakespearean matinee idol, but in his early performing years that is exactly what he was. Slender, fluidly athletic and possessed of a voice known for its crisp diction and beautiful modulations, he appeared in the 1950s with London’s Old Vic Company in numerous Shakespearean roles.
A study in contrasts, the honey-voiced thespian with the ramrod posture and patrician onstage air was actually the son of a British lorry driver.
John Neville got Neptune Theatre out of hot water and put himself in hot water with the province’s politicians.
Like many actors, he would talk about the neglected role of the actor in shaping theatrical policy and the necessity of bringing the theatre to the people and vice versa. Unlike many actors, at least at that time, he did something about it.