Marvin A. Krauss, the Tony Award-winning Broadway producer who started out as a stage manager but was also a respected and sought-after general manager for many Broadway productions, died Oct. 22 after complications from a long illness.
Mr. Krauss, who turned 74 Oct. 11, enjoyed a varied career in the theatre, working as a Broadway and stock stage manager in the 1950s before taking on general management duties. According to the Internet Broadway Database, his first Broadway credit as a general manager was on the 1961 musical, The Happiest Girl in the World, though his son said that list is incomplete, and there are dozens of other shows on his father's resume. His most recent credit, according to the IBDB was general managing Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, in 2000. Since the early 1970s, Mr. Krauss operated from offices in several Broadway theatres under the shingle of Marvin A. Krauss Associates Inc.
According to his Playbill bio for La Cage aux Folles, for which he won the Best Musical Tony, he made his Broadway debut as a producer with Ronald Ribman's The Poison Tree, followed by Isaac Bashevis Singer's Teibele and Her Demon. He was a co-producer of the smash musical, La Cage; the musical, Merlin, with Doug Henning; and a national tour of 'Master Harold'...and the boys starring James Earl Jones.
His general management credits include such Broadway productions such as Passion, The Life, Indiscretions, The Will Rogers Follies, Grand Hotel, Romance/Romance, the original Dreamgirls and its 1987 revival, Dancin', Godspell, Butterflies Are Free and the Angela Lansbury revival of Gypsy, among many others.
He also general managed many concert engagements of performers such as Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Patti LuPone, Charles Aznavour, Gilda Radner and others, as well as specialty shows such as the South American dance show, Oba Oba. He was also executive producer of Legs Diamond, the significant Broadway flop.
"He was one of kind," said Joey Parnes, a producer and general manager who started as an assistant company manager and became a general manager under Mr. Krauss' wing. "There's no easy way to describe how great he was at what he did. He was first and foremost an incredible mentor and teacher to so many people in the business. And an incredible producer-general manger who basically would solve any problem."
Parnes told Playbill On-Line Mr. Krauss was so sought after by the major producers because "he always had the big picture and always served the show. Producers and directors really trusted him. He was always looking out for their interest and what was best for the show. There was not a problem he wasn't willing to tackle and always found a solution everyone could accept."
His stage management background made him especially aware of the world of the show, Parnes said.
"There's no question he knew his way around a backstage in ways other producers and general managers did not," Parnes said.
"To see him go backstage and visit his crew, which he took from show to show, was something," recalled longtime press agent Shirley Herz, who worked on shows with Mr. Krauss. "He's one of the few general managers who could say, 'Why doesn't that winch get pulled over here?', and know what he was talking about. I remember he produced Legs Diamond, one of the first computerized shows, and he was fuming — he wanted to get rid of the computers. He saw a lot of changes in theatre over the years. The knowledge he had in his head could never be written down."
Herz added, "If you made a mistake you heard about it. He could be tough, but he had a big heart. Once any conflict was over, he loved you."
Son Seth Krauss, a prosecutor, was tempted to go into show business rather than law, but felt he couldn't fill his father's shoes, he said. Still, he traveled with his parents to out-of-town engagements when he was a schoolboy.
"I grew up in the theatre, I went on the road with him," Seth Krauss said. "I nearly didn't graduate to the next level of elementary school because I was absent. That was the days of pre-Broadway runs in Boston and Philly..."
The 32-year-old Seth Krauss, an assistant district attorney who fights white collar crime, called his dad a de-facto attorney who brilliantly wrote contracts for shows and handled union negotiations on behalf of the League of American Theatre and Producers. The younger Krauss said the League theatres would dim their Broadway marquees Oct. 23 in memory of his father.
Mr. Krauss was born and raised in the Bronx and studied at CCNY. His father was a dressmaker, his mother a housewife. He is survived by his wife, Elaine, and grown children, Anne, Robin, Nina and Seth. Funeral service is 11:45 AM Oct. 24 at the Riverside in Manhattan.
"My dad was a very successful, financially, but the money was not what he was about," Seth Krauss said. "He was always about the people, the art and sharing and teaching."