By Kenneth Jones
17 Jan 2006
Vogel died Nov. 29, 2005, at his home in New York, according to colleagues in the theatre community. The cause of death was complications from lung cancer, a spokesman said. His age was not immediately reported, but he was thought to be an octogenarian.
Vogel was one of the producers of the Tony Award nominated 2003 production of Enchanted April, and had Off-Broadway, regional, TV, film and Broadway acting credits (including a 1951 Broadway staging of Romeo and Juliet that starred Olivia de Havilland).
Vogel invested in over 50 Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. He was a producer of the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical Marlene in 1999, and produced or co-produced Off-Broadway's Shakespeare's R&J, the film "A Tale of Two Pizzas," R.T. Robinson's The Cover of Life and the musical Lust.
But Vogel's most important and lasting contribution to the commercial American theatre was CTI, through which thousands of green producers are exposed to classes, workshops and seminars with industry leaders. He founded it in 1982.
"Three-day CTI programs bring together working theatre professionals who offer hard, factual information to producers, investors and other theater professionals interested in producing for Broadway, Off Broadway, sit-down productions (open ended runs outside of NYC) and the road," according to CTI explanatory notes. "The information presented is designed to assist not only those individuals contemplating the role of a Commercial Producer, but also to Writers, Directors and Project Developers concerned about how to move closer to a Commercial Production in or outside of New York. All sessions will include a question and answer period after the speakers' presentations."
A more intensive 14-week program, a kind of boot camp for producers, is also offered by CTI, which is supported by the League of American Theatres and Producers, Inc. and Theatre Development Fund (TDF).
"The CTI 14-week program presents hard, factual information on all aspects of commercial theatre producing, including Broadway, Off-Broadway and productions for the road, with special emphasis on the relationship between not-for-profit and commercial theatre," according to Vogel's own introduction to the program at www.tdf.org/cti. "It is our goal to educate participants so they may be well informed and sophisticated in their potential dealings."
Randall Wreghitt, the Broadway producer of Beauty Queen of Leenane and Little Women, told Playbill.com, "Fred's impact on me as the director of the Commercial Theater Institute and as a friend are far reaching indeed. I have to wonder how many people in the producing field today might not be there if it were not for CTI and Fred Vogel. Through the three-day conference and the 14-week more intensive program, CTI and Fred Vogel have reached thousands of producers, actors, writers and investors — having an exciting and important influence on the theatre industry. Though Fred will be sorely missed, happily the Commercial Theater Institute, which was so dear to him, will go on and continue to play an integral role in theatre today."
Wreghitt took the three-day course in 1992 and the 14-week in 1993.
Vogel had written extensively on not-for-profit theatre management and his new book, "Producing for the Commercial Theatre," will be published next year.
"Fred had the courage to dare the impossible: to teach what was unteachable — how to produce on Broadway," commented Jed Bernstein, president of The League of American Theatres and Producers. "Then, he had the brains and the cunning to actually do it for 23 years — for thousands of aspiring David Merricks and Robert Whiteheads. He made them better, he made our community better."
"Fred's passion for the theatre was embodied in his tremendous commitment to identifying and training emerging producers and encouraging them to produce work they were passionate about," said Victoria Bailey, executive director, Theatre Development Fund. "He was tireless in his work. On a personal level I have always been grateful to Fred as he gave me my first job in New York City at FEDAPT, the organization he founded that provided critical technical assistance to emerging regional theatres throughout the country. He will be sorely missed."
Vogel, a Philadelphia native, began his theatre career began at age nine, as an actor. He began his higher education at the University of Pennsylvania, but left for a tour of duty as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. He later went to Princeton after World War II and eventually graduated from Penn State.
He also created the Foundation for the Extension and Development of the American Professional Theatre (FEDAPT) in 1970. It offered development and technical assistance to over 500 theatres, dance organizations, performing arts centers and other arts projects throughout the United States.
Vogel lectured at leading universities Arts Management graduate programs in the U.S. He served as an arts consultant for the Ford Foundation in Indonesia.
Joseph V. Melillo, executive producer at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, who worked extensively with Mr. Vogel, commented, "As I cast my eye across the commercial and not-for-profit theatre, there is only one person who has traversed both industries with grace and integrity, and that is Frederic B. Vogel."
In a varied career, Vogel was Assistant Director for the Performing Arts at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, which presented more than 125 international theatrical and concert attractions. He was in charge of the International Special Events Program and served as the Director of the Film Program, which premiered films from around the world. He was subsequently appointed Special Events Director of the New York State Commission on the World's Fair for the New York State Pavilion at the World's Fair, a position he held from 1963-1965.
In 1988, Vogel was a founding member of Broadway Cares and was the chair of the Broadway Cares Grants Committee which from 1988-1992 distributed over $1 million to scores of AIDS service providers in New York City and across the country.
With the merger of Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS in May 1992, he joined the BC/EFA Board of Trustees and continued in his role as chair of the BC/EFA National Grants Committee until his death. Over the last 13 years, as chair of the grants committee, he has been instrumental in BC/EFA making over $25 million in grants to hundreds of AIDS and family service providers and advocates in 48 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.
"Fred joined BC/EFA as a judge at the very first Gypsy of the Year competition on Nov. 28, 1989 at the St. James Theatre," said Tom Viola, BC/EFA executive director. "He has been in the audience of 15 events since. Fred's presence at this year's 17th Annual Gypsy of the Year competition on Dec. 5th and 6th will be greatly missed — but his great love for Broadway and the American theatre and enthusiastic, kind spirit will fill the house at the Neil Simon at any many other BC/EFA events for years to come."
Vogel is survived by niece Kathie Packer of Chicago, nephews Daniel J. Zitin of New York and Gary M. Zitin of Philadelphia, sister Naomi V. Zitin and brother-in-law Williard Zitin of Philadelphia.
Funeral arrangements are private. Donations in Vogel's memory should be made to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, 165 W. 46th St, NYC, NY 10036.