PlayhouseSquare Honors Broadway Producer Margo Lion
PlayhouseSquare honored Broadway producer Margo Lion with its highest award, The PlayhouseSquare Star Award for Achievement in the Performing Arts, at its annual Chairman's Dinner on Tuesday night. Past honorees include legendary composer Marvin Hamlisch, Disney Theatricals President Thomas Schumacher and Broadway producer Kevin McCollum.
"In working with her on the Executive Committee of The Broadway League's Board of Governors, I have come to know that Margo Lion embodies all of the qualities we value at PlayhouseSquare," explained Senior Vice President of Theater Operations at PlayhouseSquare Gina Vernaci. "She is visionary, brave and has a wide spectrum of interests. Success for her and for us is about more than just box office returns; it is about quality. Educating and engaging audiences, no matter how niche, is part of both our mantras."
During and after college (Mills College and a B.A. from George Washington University), Lion worked in politics, first on Capitol Hill for Senator Daniel B. Brewster (D-Maryland) and then for Senator Robert F. Kennedy in his New York office. Following Senator Kennedy's death she taught school for six years. After spending three years at the University of Iowa's Playwrights Workshop where her former husband, Ted Nemeth, was a graduate student, Lion's focus turned from education to her earlier interest in theater. In 1977 she determined to become a theater producer. Her cousin, MacArthur Award recipient and director/choreographer Martha Clarke, introduced Lion to Lyn Austin from whom she learned the ropes with Austin's not-for-profit company, Music-Theater Group/Lenox Arts Center. Lion made the move to commercial theater in 1982 bringing with her the idea for a show about Jelly Roll Morton and the origins of jazz; ten years later, that show became the Broadway musical, Jelly's Last Jam.
Lion's interests in education and politics have happily merged with her life in the theater. Having served as Co-Chairman of the Arts Policy Committee for President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign, she now serves as Co-Chairman of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Lion is also an adjunct professor and a member of the Dean's Council at the NYU-Tisch School of the Arts. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors of BC/EFA, the Advisory Board of The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, the Advisory Committee for the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at Harvard, and as advisor to both the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts and PUBLICOLOR.
Lion's productions have garnered 20 Tony Awards, four Olivier Awards and one Pulitzer Prize.
Lion's new show, Catch Me If You Can, which had its world premiere at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, opened at the Neil Simon Theatre on April 10, 2011. Other shows in development include: Like Water for Chocolate, Monsoon Wedding and The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, as well co-producing the film adaptation of Lucy Prebble's play ENRON with Laura Ziskin.
Lion, who is an inspiration to many in the performing arts industry, concluded her remarks at PlayhouseSquare Tuesday by saying, "With ten theaters to present exciting and new work, with an education program that is a model for performing arts centers across the country and ensures that so many young people have arts in their curriculum and with a business plan that revitalizes your economy...you are a genuine inspiration."
The PlayhouseSquare Star Award is bestowed annually to one individual who exemplifies a lifetime dedication to the performing arts evidenced by a body of work that contributes to our culture, proven leadership within the industry, creativity, willingness to mentor young talent and respect from the artistic community.