Joan Stein, a producer of Tony best-play winner “Side Man,” the recent Broadway musical “Catch Me If You Can” and Los Angeles productions of Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” among other plays, as well as a variety of TV efforts, died Friday in Los Angeles of appendiceal cancer. She was 59 and had been diagnosed with the rare form of cancer only four weeks earlier.
Stein won a Tony in 1999 as one of the producers of Warren Leight’s “Side Man,” about a jazz musician. More recent Broadway efforts were the musicals “9 to 5” in 2009 and 2011’s “Catch Me If You Can,” the latter nominated for best musical; others included 1987’s “The Nerd” and the 2002 revival of “The Elephant Man.”
Stein ran Beverly Hills’ Canon Theater with producing partner Susan Dietz for 10 years until 2000. A.R. Gurney’s play “Love Letters” had a long run at the venue, with various celebrities rotating in and out of the starring roles. Other Stein producing efforts at the Canon included Stuart Ross’ “Forever Plaid.”
Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” which centered on an imagined encounter between the artist and Albert Einstein, was a hit at the Westwood Playhouse in 1994-95, moved to Off Broadway and toured successfully.
Stein produced the Martha Coolidge-directed 1992 telepic “Crazy in Love,” starring Holly Hunter and Gena Rowlands. After Stein and Martin collaborated on “Picasso,” they teamed to form Carsey-Werner division Martin/Stein Prods. for smallscreen projects including the brief 2001 sketch-comedy series “The Downer Channel” and 2005 reality show “The Scholar.”
Recent legit projects included “Motherhood Out Loud” and “Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays,” both of which ran Off Broadway in 2011 and also in Los Angeles.
Born in New York City, Stein graduated from SUNY Albany with a degree in English.
During the 1980s she produced a number of plays Off Broadway: “Table Settings,” by James Lapine; Gurney’s “The Middle Ages”; “The Miss Firecracker Contest” and “Tent Meeting.” Also during the 1980s she did a five-year stint as managing director of the Berkshire Theater Festival in Stockbridge, Mass.
Stein is survived by her husband of 35 years, Ted Weiant; two sisters; and her mother.
Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society (appendiceal cancer research).