Joan Stein, Tony-winning theater producer, dies at 59

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Joan Stein, a Tony-winning theater and screen producer whose diverse career included many Los Angeles stage productions, died on Friday at 59. She had been battling cancer and died atCedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to her husband, Ted Weiant.

Stein helped to launch several long-running L.A. theater productions, including A. R. Gurney’s “Love Letters,” “Forever Plaid” and Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” She was the co-head of the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills, where she worked for 10 years. She also worked as a television producer, forming a production company with Martin.

Weiant said that she had been diagnosed just four weeks ago with a rare type of cancer affecting the appendix. Stein and her husband lived in Hollywood.


In 1999, Stein won a Tony Award as one of the producers of the Broadway play “Side Man.” Her other Broadway producing credits include the recent musicals “Catch Me If You Can” and “9 to 5,” as well as the 2002 revival of”The Elephant Man.”

At the Canon, she worked alongside her producing partner Susan Dietz. Their first success was “Love Letters,” which opened in 1990, and featured a rotating cast of celebrities. While at the Canon, she also produced “Forever Plaid” and the musical “Ruthless!”

Stein left the Canon in 2000 to pursue a career in television, according to Dietz. The theater closed in 2004. “We had fun and we did good work. She was a sister to me for those 10 years,” said Dietz.

Stein was a producer of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” that opened in 1994 at the Westwood Playhouse, now the Geffen Playhouse. The play was a hit and ran for more than 300 performances.

“People say, ‘You can’t make a living in the theater in L.A.,’ ” Stein told The Times in 1995. “Well, everybody in my office is wearing clothes, driving cars, paying rent. They’re making a living in the theater.”

Stein’s recent stage projects included “Motherhood Out Loud,” which ran at Primary Stages in New York and at the Geffen Playhouse in 2011 under the title “In Mother Words.” She also produced “Standing on Ceremony,” a play about gay marriage, that ran at the Largo at the Coronet in West Hollywood.


Her stage career also included a stint as the managing director of the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.

Stein was born in New York. In addition to her husband, she is survived by two sisters and her mother.

[Updated: a previous version of this post misspelled the name of producer Susan Dietz.]


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