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August 23, 1991 - Image 77

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-08-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ENTERTAINMENT

...4 "4:%.:4:47/=1::44XXXX>VC.C<K,XX'.4nC4XX>C4>=4:44XXX7, - ...47,C4KX:47.4:0.T.C44X.W.C.Ce:44XXTeloCe"

1 1 1

LESLEY PEARL

Jewish News Intern

or Alan Lichtenstein the
play has always been the
thing.
The 41-year-old director of
theater operations for the
Fisher Theatre and Masonic
Temple started his career
early. After a fire destroyed
his parents' home in New
Haven, Conn., the Lichtens-
teins moved in above the
Shubert Theatre in New
Haven.

F

The theater was in Mr.
Lichtenstein's
neighborhood.

Fourteen-year-old Alan
fetched coffee for actors so
that he could hang out
backstage. He later became
a stagehand.
His early love for theater
took a brief back seat when
he moved to Florida to at-
tend business school at Stet-
son University in the late
1960s.
At Stetson, a Baptist
school, he was able to be
close to his grandmother and
perhaps make history, being
one of the first Stetson

students ever exempted from
mandatory chapel.
Attending a Christian
university was never a
source of conflict for Mr.
Lichtenstein. His religion
was addressed only in
biblical archaeology classes,
in which he obtained a
minor. When the topic of
Judaism was introduced, his
professors would jokingly
ask, "So, Mr. Lichtenstein,
what do you think?"
Between studies, Mr.
Lichtenstein returned to his
early aspirations, choosing
production rather than pro-
test of the Vietnam War.
"I wasn't political," he
said. "I was too busy work-
ing. And down in Florida
they were all carrying
American flags."
Mr. Lichtenstein pro-
grammed rock shows for the
university, later buying his
own stage equipment to. rent

"We keep
reinventing the
wheel here."

Alan Lichtenstein
22222222:222a

to Stetson and other
neighboring schools. His
resume touted bringing such
acts as Yes and Jethro Tull
to the campus.
Upon graduation, Mr.
Lichtenstein pushed aside
his entertainment flair for
bigger money-making ven-
tures. When he asked
friends and family for a
promising field to enter,
they replied: hospital
administration.
But after one summer of
less-than-satisfying hospital
work in Florida, Mr.
Lichtenstein headed north to
work as a stagehand at one
theater and in the box office
of another. He was invited
into the master's program in
theater at Yale University
where future stars
Sigourney Weaver and
Michael Gross were also
studying. •
Mr. Lichtenstein's stay at
Yale was cut short by his
campus production work in
Leonard Bernstein's Mass.



"He (Bernstein) loved it,"
Mr. Lichtenstein said. "He
said it was done the way it
was meant to be done."
Mr. Lichtenstein promptly
left school to tour Europe
with the show. At the end of
the run he was offered a job
in New York with Mr. Bern-
stein, but opted to manage
and act as booking agent for
the Louis Mikolais Dance
Theatre, and later for the
Erick Hawkins Dance Com-
pany. On the side, he was
able to pick up personal
clients like composer Virgil
Thomson, in addition to
delivering meat for a but-
cher on weekends to
customers such as Henry
Kissinger.
In 1977, Mr. Lichtenstein
made Detroit his home when
he was offered a position co-
ordinating production at
Music Hall. Through careful
management, spending and
wise booking of shows like
The King and I, he turned
the failing, deficit-ridden
theater with 78 perfor-
mances a year into a money-
making venue boasting 240
performances.
He was hired away from
Music Hall to manage the
reopened Masonic Temple
Theatre, which was later
merged with the Fisher
Theatre by Joseph
Nederlander and his
brothers.
Although he loves Detroit,
Mr. Lichtenstein admits the
Motor City is a difficult
theater town.
"We keep reinventing the
wheel here," he said.
"Everyone who starts out
here wants to go out to the
coasts. This is fertile ground,
but it's tough to make a liv-
ing here."
Mr. Lichtenstein cites a
lack of small venues as the
problem. For this reason he
has been reluctant to bring
Yiddish theater to Detroit,
but expresses interest, in do-
ing so in the future.
' For 10 years now, Mr.
Lichtenstein has worked
closely with the Nederlander
brothers, managing,
marketing, advertising and
bringing the best shows for
the right price to the two
theaters. Philadelphia and

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

77

ARTS E FNITFRTAINIMPAIT

Alan Lichtenstein has parleyed a childhood love of theater into a career.

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