Music Theatre Group (MTG) producing director Lynn Austin, who was instrumental at the beginning of many artistic careers, was killed on Oct. 30 when she was struck by a vehicle on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
Details are sketchy at this writing, but Playbill On-Line has learned that Austin was struck by a car on Eighth Avenue sometime after midnight in the early morning hours of Oct. 30. Additional details are expected from MTG in the coming days.
The president of MTG's board and the group's producing director, Austin was a theatre booster. In the late '80s, she provided crucial support to then-unknowns, Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal, as they went about presenting their original Off-Broadway hit, Juan Darien.
Taymor and Goldenthal contacted Playbill On-Line on Oct. 30 after learning Austin's fate. "She was the most uncompromising producer of musical theatre, who never rode the trendy wave and really saw the potential of the artists she chose to work with," Taymor said.
"She had this incredible instinct for choosing and trusting the vision of the artists she chose to work with," Goldenthal added. Taymor emphasized that, "The thing about her for us was her incredible intuition. We first spoke about Juan Darien and ten minutes later she called and said, 'You've got the theatre for a year from now...we'll produce your production.' And this was before we'd done anything, at a time when we weren't known."
"She was seriously uncompromising and didn't care if something was commercial or noncommercial, as long as she believed in you and in the project," Goldenthal said.
Indicative of Austin's commitment to her artists was the story that she had personally helped finance the first run of Juan Darien. "There was nobody else like her," Taymor said, "she helped finance Juan Darien by taking a personal mortgage on her house."
The bond between Taymor and Goldenthal with Austin remained strong over the years, and when Lincoln Center presented a financial award to the couple for it's production of Juan Darien, they in turn split the money between two groups. "We split it between Theatre for a New Audience and Music-Theatre Group," Taymor said, "because those are the two companies we feel the most love for and the most indebted to."
Playbill On-Line will post further details and information about any service for Lynn Austin when it becomes available.
-- By Murdoch McBride