Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff

As BroadwayWorld reported last week, Joseph Masteroff, the Tony-winning librettist of the international musical classics, Cabaret and She Loves Me, died on September 28th 2018 at the Actors Fund Home in Engelwood, New Jersey. He was 98 years old.

Howard Marren, a friend and his literary executor, confirmed the death.

A modest, self-deprecating man, Masteroff attributed much of his success to luck. But his peers, including such demanding artists as producer-director Harold Prince, always held him in the highest regard as an artist and collaborator and credited him with the success of both She Loves Me and Cabaret. It is arguable that not a day goes by without Cabaret being produced somewhere in the world. And both this landmark musical and the perennially charming She Love Me are at the top of the lists when theater aficionados debate what constitutes "the perfect musical."

Masteroff's involvement in 1963's She Loves Me came as a result of his Broadway debut in 1959 with the drama The Warm Peninsula. It starried Julie Harris as a shy young woman emotionally abused by a handsome roué, played by Farley Granger. Larry Hagman and June Havoc were also in the cast. Producer-director Harold Prince saw it and chose Masteroff to adapt a musical based on an Hungarian play by Miklos Laszlo. With music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick and direction by Prince, She Loves Me opened to rave reviews and earned five Tony nominations, including Best Musical. It has since enjoyed acclaimed Broadway revivals in 1993 and 2016.

In 1966, Prince again tapped Masteroff, this time to adapt John Van Druten's I Am Camera which became Cabaret with songs by John Kander and Fred Ebb. It was a ground-breaking and daring enterprise. Set in 1929 Weimar Germany, the musical centered on the star-crossed romance between Cliff, a young American writer, and Sally Bowles, a "divinely decadent" chanteuse. The musical brazenly dealt with such provocative subjects as anti-semitism, abortion, bisexuality, and the rise of Nazism. Cabaret opened to unanimous critical praise and earned eleven Tony Award nominations, winning eight, including Best Musical. Three major Broadway revivals-in 1987, 1998, and 2014-followed its initial long run.

We remember the great librettist below...

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff attending the Broadway Opening Night After Party for 'Cabaret' at Studio 54 on April 24, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff attends the Broadway Opening Night Performance of 'On the 20th Century' at The American Airlines Theatre on March 12, 2015 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff attends the Broadway Opening Night Performance of 'On the 20th Century' at The American Airlines Theatre on March 12, 2015 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Rob Marshell, Aaron Krohn, Danny Burstein, Michelle Williams, , Alan Cumming, Linda Emond, John Kander, Bill Heck, Gayle Rankin, Sam Mendes and Joe Masteroff during the Broadway Opening Night Performance Curtain Call for 'Cabaret' at Studio 54 on April 24, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Sam Mendes and Joe Masteroff during the Broadway Opening Night Performance Curtain Call for 'Cabaret' at Studio 54 on April 24, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Bill Heck, Sam Mendes and Joe Masteroff during the Broadway Opening Night Performance Curtain Call for 'Cabaret' at Studio 54 on April 24, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff attending the Broadway Opening Night After Party for 'Cabaret' at Studio 54 on April 24, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff attending the Broadway Opening Night After Party for 'Cabaret' at Studio 54 on April 24, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff attending the Roundabout Theatre Company's 2013 Spring Gala at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on 3/11/2013

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Laura Shoop, Jenifer Foote, Alison Cimmet, Sheldon Harnick, Joe Masteroff, Nicholas Barasch, Michael Fatica and Laura Benanti attends the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Sheldon Harnick and Joe Masteroff attends the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Laura Shoop, Jenifer Foote, Alison Cimmet, Sheldon Harnick, Joe Masteroff, Nicholas Barasch, Michael Fatica and Laura Benanti attends the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff attends the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff and Sheldon Harnick attends the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Laura Benanti, Joe Masteroff and Sheldon Harnick attends the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff and Sheldon Harnick performs at the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff and Sheldon Harnick performs at the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Laura Benanti, Joe Masteroff and Sheldon Harnick performs at the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Sheldon Harnick, Joe Masteroff and Laura Benanti performs at the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Sheldon Harnick, Joe Masteroff and Laura Benanti attends the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff performs at the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

Photo Flash: Remembering the Late Joe Masteroff
Joe Masteroff attends the CD release signing for the Broadway revival of 'She Loves Me' at Barnes and Noble 86th street on August 3, 2016 in New York City.

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From This Author Walter McBride

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