Isabelle Stevenson, president of the American Theatre Wing from 1966-98, underwent eight hours of heart surgery June 6 to repair a torn aorta that caused her to collapse at her home following the Tony Awards June 4. The 84-year-old Stevenson's condition is guarded, according to Wing president Roy A. Somlyo, who said that she was conscious. Stevenson is an annual fixture on the Tony Awards broadcast as representative of the Wing and a regular moderator for the Wing's popular "Working in the Theatre" panel discussions on TV. She was given a Special Tony Award in 1999 for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.
On June 4, she made her annual appearance in the Tony Awards, a collaboration between the Wing and the League of American Theatres and Producers. She is currently chairman of the board of the Wing.
After the Sunday awards, she told Somlyo that she wasn't feeling well enough to go to the Tony ball, and she went home early, collapsing on the curb of her home.
The hospital location has not been disclosed, to give the family, including husband John Stevenson and their three daughters, some quiet and privacy.
Somlyo said that the recovery period would be very complicated. "She's tough, and she's a fighter," Somlyo told Playbill On Line. "It's now a question of getting through these next few days."
Stevenson was a vaudeville dancer, the "Lubow" in an act called Nice, Florio and Lubow. As president of the Wing, she worked to develop new audiences by initiating such programs as "Introduction to Broadway" (which sends high school kids to see Broadway shows) and "Theatre in Schools" (which sends theatre professionals to high schools to speak). She created and produces cable TV's "Working in the Theatre" seminars.
-- By Kenneth Jones