He Saved Broadway

Broadway legend Gerald Schoenfeld died of a heart attack Tuesday, and Frank Rich supplies his epitaph: “It is not an overstatement to say that they saved New York’s commercial theater industry—and, implicitly, Times Square—when everyone else had left it for dead.” Schoenfeld was a “Runyonesque character” who got control of the Schubert Organization in 1972, when its theaters were floundering and Times Square was in its maximum sleaze period. He booked shows like Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and A Chorus Line, which revived Broadway (financially, if not always artistically). A young David Mamet once told him, “You call yourself a producer. But you don’t know how to create anything; all you know how to do is destroy.” Like a truly benevolent mogul, Schoenfeld went on to book several of Mamet’s plays.