Tom Mallow, a booker and producer who was so successful at mounting national tours he was dubbed "King of the Road" by Time magazine, died early June 6, according to friends and colleagues in the theatre community.
Mr. Mallow, 72, a resident of Lighthouse Point, FL, had been in ill health recently. He is credited with introducing small towns and medium-sized cities in North America to Broadway plays and musicals, often offering shows in stays as short as one night. At one point during his career as a producer and presenter, he and his company, Janco Productions, named after his business partner and wife, Jan, had as many as 200 cities to choose from, from Scranton to Denver and beyond.
"He's responsible, I know, for what the road is today," said colleague George MacPherson, who worked with Mr. Mallow on Janco Productions (which produced shows) and its sister company, American Theatre Productions (which managed his and other producers' tours and booked them).
Mr. Mallow's operations, which lasted between 1969 and the mid-1990s, included maintaining trucks that would move shows around the country. "That was the days when a bus and truck was just that: One bus and one truck," MacPherson told Playbill On-Line. "There was no such thing as a theatrical trucking company that would go across the country. You would rent trucks from freight companies, but they were built for hauling freight, so the scenery would get beat up — so he would buy his own trailers."
Janco Trucking was founded in 1975 and still operates as Janco Ltd. today, used for hauling a variety of entertainment industry equipment. Mr. Mallow, who partnered with Jim Janek on many shows, mounted tours of Dancin' (as many as five separate companies, 1980-86, including a troupe that went to Japan), A Chorus Line, The Wiz (also on Broadway), Same Time Next Year, Chapter Two, Equus, Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Elephant Man, Eubie, My Fair Lady, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, No Sex, Please, We're British (also on Broadway), The River Niger, Deathtrap, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, They're Playing Our Song, Two by Two, Man of La Mancha, Words and Music, Your Arms Too Short To Box With God (also on Broadway) and more.
His major contribution, MacPherson said, "was bringing Broadway to these small towns, to make people all over the country know what Broadway was. He always fought for absolute quality on the shows."
Mr. Mallow planted the seeds of subscription series in towns such as Scranton, PA, where he would establish a season and then have local businesspeople maintain the resident details of the series business.
"His belief was that we had to take Broadway across the country," MacPherson said.
ATP partnered with Dodger Productions for seven or eight tours in a joint venture known as ATP-Dodger in 1994-95 before Mr. Mallow retired to Florida. He was Long Island resident before he lived in Florida.
Mr. Mallow began as a band leader, in Albuquerque, NM, and went to work for MCA as a big band booker in Chicago, in the days when big bands were still touring to hotels and ballrooms around the nation. He eventually started booking theatrical productions, "and then he started producing them because he found the quality wasn't there year after year, and nobody was supplying productions consistently," MacPherson observed.
Mr. Mallow is survived by his wife, Jan, three daughters and grandchildren.