Mr. Marre accumulated a host of directing credits over his long career, including the original productions of the musical Kismet, and Jerry Herman's first Broadway show, Milk and Honey. But it was Man of La Mancha, a tuneful telling of "Don Quixote," that came to define his career. He directed the New York premiere, which began far Off-Broadway at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre, in 1965, and eventually moved to three different Broadway theatres, before it closed in 1972.
The show began as a television drama called "I, Don Quixote," written by playwright Dale Wasserman. It was Mr. Marre who suggested the show be turned into a musical. Wasserman fashioned a story in which Cervantes, waiting in a prison cell to be tried by the Spanish Inquisition, tells his fellow inmates the story of Don Quixote. The show's simple storytelling and idealistic, yet charmingly foolish hero struck a chord with audiences, rendering the show an oft-revived classic, and transforming its central song, "The Impossible Dream," into a musical theatre anthem. Mr. Marre's wife, actress Joan Diener, played the lead female role of tavern wench Aldonza.
In 1948, Mr. Marre was one of the co-founders of the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA, which was one of the country's first classical repertory companies. In 1953, he was hired by Lincoln Kirstein to be the first artistic director of the New York City Drama Company at City Center, where he staged Love's Labour's Lost, The Merchant of Venice and Shaw's Misalliance, all in 1953.
In 1958, he directed At the Grand, a musical version of Vicki Baum's 1930 novel "Grand Hotel," in Los Angeles. The show never reached New York. However, a revamped version of the property, called Grand Hotel, and directed by Tommy Tune, landed on Broadway more than 30 years later.