Liza Redfield, Broadway's First Full-Time Female Conductor, Dies at 94 | Playbill

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Obituaries Liza Redfield, Broadway's First Full-Time Female Conductor, Dies at 94 The music director and arranger made history taking the baton during the original Broadway run of The Music Man.
Robert Preston and cast Friedman-Abeles/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

Broadway conductor, music director, and arranger Liza Redfield has died at the age of 94 at Amsterdam Nursing Home in New York City. The news was confirmed to the New York Times by Redfield's friend Barbara Sandler.

Redfield holds the distinction of being the first female conductor to lead a Broadway show full-time, taking over the pit of The Music Man from original conductor Herbert Greene on July 4, 1960. As it was reported at the time, Redfield led an orchestra made up of 28 men and one woman playing the most popular score on Broadway.

Though she was likely not Broadway's first female conductor—female associate and assistant conductors had filled in at the podium previously—Redfield was the first woman to take over a Broadway production's conducting duties full-time, working in a field that was and has remained almost exclusively male. Redfield paved the way for such conductors as Kimberly Grigsby, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Linda Twine, Julie McBride, Andrea Grody, Meg Zervoulis, and Emily Marshall, among others.

Redfield went on to conduct three more Broadway shows, including 1963's Sophie, 1974's Good News, and 1980's Charlie and Algernon, none of which ran for more than 17 performances. Off-Broadway, Redfield conducted a musical adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest titled Ernest in Love in 1960, a six-performance run of Theodore Mann's F. Jasmine Addams in 1971, and musicals Mod Donna and Apple Pie at The Public Theater in 1970 and 1976 respectively.

Redfield was born August 11, 1924 in Philadelphia.


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