Ray Duval, 74, active in Philadelphia theater

Posted: October 28, 2012

Ray Duval, 74, a prominent figure for decades on the Philadelphia theater scene, died Sunday, Oct. 14, of a heart attack.

Born Nathan Goldiner, Mr. Duval spent his life learning the ins and outs of the theater, whether recrafting Broadway classics for young children, performing in area productions, or volunteering at theater companies or festivals.

Mr. Duval was known as one of the faces of the Prince Music Theater, where he worked for the last 15 years as the house manager.

"He always said that he needed to know how to do every job in theater in order to be a part of the industry," said Ron Hunter, Mr. Duval's partner for more than 45 years.

For more than a half century, Mr. Duval worked or volunteered at many local theaters, including the Theater of the Living Arts, the Full Circle Theater, and the Wilma Theater.

Mr. Duval also participated in cultural festivals such as the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Philadelphia International Film Festival, and the Philadelphia QFest. He had an occasional column, "SHOWTALK!," in the Nicetown News.

After graduating from Temple University with a degree in child development and a minor in theater and speech, Mr. Duval, with his sister Shirley Shapiro, opened Red Lion Day Care and summer camp in Northeast Philadelphia. There, he would shorten well-known plays and musicals for the staff members to perform for the children.

"When he spoke, people always listened," said Hunter. "He was really knowledgeable about the theater. And about people, too. He had this connection with people."

Mr. Duval volunteered at the Woodhaven Center in the Northeast, said Hunter, working with male juveniles.

Mr. Duval also became a member of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, speaking out on behalf of underserved communities.

In addition to Hunter, Mr. Duval is survived by his sister Marian; brother Herman; and several nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

At the time of his death, Mr. Duval was rehearsing for the musical 3 Divas 3 and had finished filming Andrew Repasky McElhinney's Christmas Dreams, a science-fiction movie to be released in December.

Mr. Duval's memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, at Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St.

Contact Samantha Byles at 215-854-2771 or sbyles@phillynews.com.

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