You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jack F. Lee, Musical Director of Stage and Film, Dies at 86

Jack F. Lee (born John Francis Lee), musical director of both stage and screen, died March 2 in his home at the age of 86.

Lee was one of Broadway’s leading conductors and musical directors, having worked with composer-lyricists John Kander & Fred Ebb, Cy Coleman & Dorothy Fields, Jule Styne, Richard Rogers, Stephen Sondheim, Charles Strouse, Alan Jay Lerner, Maury Yeston, Robert Wright & George Forrest, Sandy Wilson, Bob Merrill, Betty Comden & Adolph Green and Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones.

His Broadway, Off Broadway and tour credits include “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” with Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker; “Knickerbocker Holiday” with Burt Lancaster; “Funny Girl” with Marilyn Michaels; “No Strings,” directed by Joe Layton; “Irene” with Debbie Reynolds, directed by John Gielgud and Gower Champion; “Sweet Charity” with Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera, directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse; “Irma La Douce” with Juliet Prowse; “George M” with Joel Grey; “Applause” with Lauren Bacall; “Annie Get Your Gun” with Debbie Reynolds, directed by Gower Champion; “Peter Pan” with Sandy Duncan; “My One and Only” with Tommy Tune and Twiggy; “Grand Hotel,” directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune; “Nick and Nora” with Barry Bostwick, Joanna Gleason and Christine Baranski, directed by Arthur Laurents; “My Fair Lady” with Richard Chamberlain; and “Mad About the Boy,” the all-star Noel Coward centennial celebration at Carnegie Hall.

In 1998 Lee conducted the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids concert at Avery Fisher Hall with all the women who played Sweet Charity during its runs (Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, Bebe Neuwirth, Donna McKechnie & Debbie Allen) plus Robert Goulet, Whoopi Goldberg, Dom DeLuise and Charles Nelson Reilly.

Popular on Variety

Lee put acts together for Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Sandy Duncan, Georgia Gibbs, Juliet Prowse and Tommy Tune.

He served as musical supervisor on the filming of “Sweet Charity” and coached Shirley MacLaine in “Postcards From the Edge.” Lee wrote the dance music for Carol Burnett’s television special “Calamity Jane.”

Mr. Lee was still teaching as adjunct professor in the drama department of the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU last year. Up until the very end, Lee was working on various projects, including “All That Glitters, the Liberace Musical,” “Zarra, the Musical” and a new opera by Laurence Guittard.

Lee was born in Lakewood, Ohio. He studied piano, singing and drama at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music. He worked as an actor himself in many productions at the Cleveland Playhouse and Cain Park Theatre and was cast in the role of “Doc” on the CBS soap opera “Love of Life.” He also played Cosme McMoon in the Off Broadway production of “Souvenir,” starring Judy Kaye.

Jack is predeceased by Charles Kakatsakis, his collaborator on the musical theater workshops they successfully conducted together in New York for many years.

He is survived by his loved ones Connie Coit Kitchens, Benjamin Lee Kitchens, June Squibb and Harry Kakatsakis.

The Jack Lee Music Theatre Collection will be housed in a newly dedicated space at the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music. Donations to support this effort as well as the Jack Lee Music Theatre Scholarship may be sent to:

Baldwin Wallace University Development Office
Baldwin Wallace University
Jack Lee Memorial Fund
275 Eastland Road
Berea, OH 44017

Online gifts may be submitted here. Select “other” and add Jack Lee Memorial Fund.

More Legit

  • & Juliet review

    West End Review: '& Juliet'

    From “Wicked” to “Waitress,” female empowerment has been a boon for musical theater. But where those shows veered between sincerely earnest and earnestly sincere, “& Juliet” gleefully goes for broke putting gender on the agenda as it yokes pop milestones from the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Celine Dion to a girl-power revamp [...]

  • Ephraim Sykes participates in the 73rd

    Michael Jackson Musical Finds Its King of Pop

    Tony Award nominee Ephraim Sykes will moonwalk on Broadway, playing Michael Jackson in “MJ The Musical.” The show, which its the Great White Way after a rocky gestation. It begins previews on July 6, 2020, at the Neil Simon Theatre with an official opening set for Aug. 13. Sykes is currently appearing in another pop [...]

  • A Christmas Carol review

    Broadway Review: 'A Christmas Carol'

    Those expecting a traditional take on Charles Dickens’ classic holiday perennial may be in for a shock at the new Broadway version of “A Christmas Carol.” Or at least they might be terribly perplexed by this dour production, whose additions only subtract from the potency of the transformative tale. While there have been many adaptations [...]

  • Timothee Chalamet poses for photographers at

    Timothée Chalamet to Make London Stage Debut With Eileen Atkins in '4000 Miles'

    Timothee Chalemet is set to take to the London stage for the first time, appearing next spring in Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play “4000 Miles.” Matthew Warchus will direct the production at The Old Vic, which will also star Eileen Atkins (“The Crown,” “Gosford Park”). The play opens April 2020. It turns on the story [...]

  • Jonathan Groff

    Listen: Jonathan Groff Knows He's a Spitter

    If you’ve seen “Little Shop of Horrors” — the starry revival headlined by Jonathan Groff in a small Off Broadway theater — you probably noticed that Groff spits a lot when he speaks onstage. He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s been a spitter as long as he can remember, but “Little Shop” [...]

  • Key Largo

    L.A. Theater Review: Andy Garcia in 'Key Largo'

    Would “Casablanca” make a good play? Guess what: It was first produced on stage as “Everybody Comes to Rick’s.” How about “Key Largo,” the black-and-white Bogie-and-Bacall vehicle in which a handful of misfits find themselves trapped in a South Florida hotel while a hurricane rages outside? In fact, the 1948 John Huston film was adapted [...]

  • Sophia Anne Caruso and Alex Brightman'Beetlejuice'

    How 'Beetlejuice: The Musical' Became a Broadway Turnaround Story

    Christopher Kuczewski is what you’d call a Netherling. It’s a reference to the netherworld inhabitants who populate “Beetlejuice: The Musical,” the off-beat adaptation of the 1988 hit film that’s becoming an unlikely Broadway turnaround story. And that designation, which has been given to superfans of the show, goes a long way towards explaining how a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content