Joan Stein, Theatre Producer, Dies at 59

By Robert Simonson
August 6, 2012

Joan Stein, who produced plays on Broadway and Off-Broadway, died Aug. 3. The cause was appendiceal cancer. She was 59.



Ms. Stein produced both theatre on the West and East Coasts and television in Los Angeles. She graduated in 1974 with a B.A. in Theater and English at the State University of New York at Albany.

Her Off-Broadway producing career began in 1980 with James Lapine’s Table Settings and continued with A.R. Gurney's The Middle Ages (1983), Beth Henley's The Miss Firecracker Contest (1984) and Larry Larson's Tent Meeting (1987). She had a hit in 1995 with Steve Martin's loopy comedy Picasso at the Lapin Agile. It ran for nearly 250 performances. She had previously produced the play in Los Angeles.

Ms. Stein produced a single play on Broadway in the 1980s, Larry Shue's comedy The Nerd, starring Mark Hamill. It ran for more than a year. She didn't return to Broadway for a decade, when she signed on as one of the producers of the Tony Award-winning Side Man by Warren Leight, when it transferred from the Criterion Center to the Golden Theatre. She went on to produce Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West, the 2002 revival of The Elephant Man, and the musicals 9 to 5 and Catch Me If You Can.

In 1982, she began a five-year tenure as the managing director of the historic Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, MA, where she partnered with artistic director Josie Abady.

In 1990, Ms. Stein moved to Los Angeles, where she became the executive director of The Canon Theatre, producing and general managing productions that included Love Letters, Forever Plaid, Ruthless The Musical, Bermuda Avenue Triangle, Last Night At Ballyhoo and Nude, Nude Totally Nude starring Andrea Martin. Ms. Stein was also the theatre producer of the HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen.

In 2002, she partnered with Steve Martin and created Martin/Stein Productions, a television company that developed and produced scripted and reality television programming for all broadcast networks, HBO and Showtime.

Other television producing credits included "My Brother’ Wife," starring John Ritter and Mel Harris for ABC, and "Crazy in Love," starring Holly Hunter, Gena Rowlands and Bill Pullman for TNT.

Joan Stein is survived by her husband of 35 years, director and landscape architect Ted Weiant.

Memorials in Los Angeles and New York are currently being planned. In lieu of flowers, donations in the memory of Joan can be made to: The American Cancer Society, (800) 227-2345 or cancer.org (Appendiceal Cancer Research).