Alan Wasser, a Tony Award honoree who served as general manager for over 60 Broadway productions, died April 14 in New York at the age of 70 following complications from Parkinson’s disease.
Mr. Wasser founded and was chairman of Alan Wasser Associates, specializing in theatrical general management, tour booking, and tour marketing across North America. In 2012, with business partners Allan Williams, Aaron Lustbader, and Mark Shacket, Mr. Wasser formed Foresight Theatrical LLC, which continues to offer producing, general managing, booking, press, and other theatrical resources for stage productions around the world.
Foresight’s many Broadway productions include the upcoming Moulin Rouge!, the current The Prom and King Kong, as well as The Lifespan of a Fact, Escape to Margaritaville, The Band's Visit, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tuck Everlasting, American Psycho, Misery, Disgraced, and Kinky Boots. The group was also the general manager for the Tony Awards from 2009 to 2012.
In 1986, Alan Wasser Associates general managed all of Cameron Mackintosh’s Broadway and U.S. touring productions, including Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Swan Lake, Putting It Together, Martin Guerre, and Oklahoma! In fact, Mr. Wasser's long-time collaboration with Mackintosh revolutionized the way shows were produced and managed both on Broadway and on tour across North America. Foresight continues to represent The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.
In a statement Mackintosh said, “Alan’s contribution to the re-birth of the American musical theatre in the 1980’s and 1990’s was enormous, helping turn it into a hugely successful industry where before there had only been occasional big hits. Through Alan’s organizational efforts and inspiration, he brought to my attention numerous exciting new talents who had not yet worked on Broadway. Through their tremendous efforts these huge shows criss-crossed America on a similar scale to their original Broadway splendor—something that had not happened before on this scale. Alan was also the nicest and fairest man you could ever work with. We all adored him and will carry his memory forever.”
A native of Portland, Oregon, Mr. Wasser earned his bachelor’s degree at Columbia University, majoring in music composition and orchestration. He got his start in the professional theatre at Circle in the Square, first as subscription manager and later as assistant managing director.
His earliest Broadway credits included assistant to the managing director for Death of a Salesman (1975) and Pal Joey (1976), associate company manager for The Importance of Being Earnest (1977) and Tartuffe (1977), and company manager for Gorey Stories (1978) and Sugar Babies (1979). His first Broadway credit as general manager was for the 1982 revival of Ibsen's Ghosts.
After working on the road with various touring productions, he was appointed general manager of productions for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1985.
Robert E. Wankel, President and Co-CEO of The Shubert Organization, stated, “Alan was the general manager of the Kennedy Center when we first met. He was clearly a young man with a big future. He established his reputation on Broadway working with Cameron Mackintosh on an amazing string of hits. He was a tremendous asset to the industry, and a wonderful man. On behalf of everyone at the Shubert Organization, I send sincere condolences to Alan’s family, his partners and his wide circle of friends.”
Mr. Wasser was a longtime member of the Executive Committee of the League of American Theatres and Producers (now The Broadway League) and served on the board of Playwrights Horizons. He was an amateur composer, and in 1996, released the CD Music from Laurel Hill.
In 2017, the Tony Awards Administration Committee presented Mr. Wasser and fellow general manager Nina Lannan the 2017 Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre.
Mr. Wasser is survived by two sisters Rosalie Quinn (Paul) of Bellevue, Washington, and Carolyn Ikuta of Yorba Linda, California, and nine nieces and nephews.