Joe Masteroff, the Tony Award-winning story writer of the sensible, edgy musical “Cabaret” and the touching, romantic “She Loves Me,” has died. He was 98.
Masteroff died Friday at the Actors Fund Residence in Englewood, New Jersey, mentioned The Roundabout Theatre Firm, which produced current revivals of his best-loved reveals.
“In the present day we deeply mourn the loss of our buddy Joe Masteroff, one of the 20th century’s masters of the Nice American Musical. His ‘She Loves Me’ and ‘Cabaret’ helped form our theater, and we had been honored to current them each on Broadway,” mentioned Todd Haimes, creative director and CEO of the Roundabout Theatre Firm.
“Joe was an in depth collaborator, a legendary wit, and a pricey buddy. Our ideas and prayers are along with his family and friends.”
Masteroff was by no means prolific however made an incredible mark on the theater with two reveals that appeared fully totally different — one thought-about by many to be essentially the most charming musical ever written and the opposite a ferociously darkish musical with ominous Nazis.
“I’ve had a restricted profession, however it’s been OK,” he advised The Related Press in a 2015 interview as one other nationwide tour of “Cabaret” was kicking off.
The Philadelphia-born Masteroff hoped as a younger man to put in writing performs. After serving in World Warfare II, he took a course for play writing. He hadn’t discovered a lot success till his 1959 comedy play “The Heat Peninsula” made it to Broadway starring Julie Harris.
“At some point my agent known as and mentioned ‘Joe, I’ve bought great information. Julie Harris needs to do your play.’ I mentioned, ‘Which play?’ He advised me and mentioned, ‘Not solely that, she needs to tour for a yr all through the US after which carry it to New York.’ That day my life modified.”
The present solely managed 86 Broadway performances however bought Masteroff observed. He was requested to put in writing the e-book for “She Loves Me” with songs by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. It was produced by the legendary Hal Prince.
A 2016 Tony-nominated revival on Broadway starred Laura Benanti, Jane Krakowski and Zachary Levi. The story has been tailored into the movies “The Store Across the Nook” with James Stewart and “You’ve Obtained Mail” with Tom Hanks.
It was Prince who subsequent requested him to put in writing the libretto for a musical that took a glance at a seamy slice of life in Germany simply earlier than the Nazi takeover. The songs had been supplied by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb.
The present is about in 1920s Berlin, the place a sleazy nightclub turns into an emblem for a world slowly going mad and drifting towards world struggle. The musical was first known as “Welcome to Berlin,” a reputation that was dropped after Masteroff instructed “Cabaret.”
Within the present, cabaret numbers are interspersed with two love tales — one between free spirit Sally Bowles and an American writer named Cliff Bradshaw and a second between a German landlady and her Jewish tenant.
It debuted in Boston in 1966 and was a sensation — audiences weren’t used to going to reveals that combined name woman characters and Nazis, lasciviousness, alcoholism and
“I all the time thought that this present was very iffy. We had completed so many issues that no one of their proper thoughts would have completed. That it labored was a nice shock,” Masteroff mentioned in 2015.
“On the first performances — perhaps the primary three or 4 days — folks stored strolling out. In numbers. And the explanation, fairly clearly, was they went to see a musical known as ‘Cabaret’ and there was one thing mistaken with this present. Some folks had been very disillusioned. As soon as the evaluations got here out, that ended.”
The unique manufacturing — starring Jill Haworth as Sally, Bert Convy as Clifford and Joel Gray because the Grasp of Ceremonies — was one of essentially the most influential musicals of the 1960s. It gained one of the best musical Tony in 1967.
Each “She Loves You” and “Cabaret” made quite a few appearances on Broadway and regionally through the years. Masteroff solely helped write one different adaptation to make it to Broadway — “70, Ladies, 70” in 1971, which lasted solely 35 performances — however his profession was set.
“I wrote a couple of reveals after that however principally for my very own amusement,” he mentioned. “I haven’t had an enormous profession, you may say. I’m not that anxious. If I’m doing all proper, I’ll accept that.”