Tony Award-Winning Producer Steve Fickinger Has Passed Away

Steve oversaw development of 6 Broadway shows, and much more.

By: Jun. 22, 2022

Tony Award-Winning Producer Steve Fickinger Has Passed Away

Steve Fickinger, The Tony Award-winning producer who worked on shows such as Dear Evan Hansen, The Lion King, and Newsies passed away suddenly last week.

Steve Fickinger was a Tony Award winning Producer with over 30 years of experience and accomplishments in the Entertainment Industry. Highlights include 20 years at Walt Disney Studios where as Vice President of Development, he oversaw the development of over 15 animated features. Moving on to become the VP of Creative Development for Disney Theatrical Productions, Steve oversaw development of 6 Broadway shows, personally developing the record breaking National Tour of Disney's "High School Musical," the Tony Award winning Broadway production of "Newsies," and Disney's long-running Broadway smash production of "Alladin." Independently, productions include "Dear Evan Hansen", which won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Musical. Steve is currently developing a number of animated and hybrid films for Warner Bros. Studios. He is also Executive Producer of Broadway's Rock of Ages at The Bourbon Room in Hollywood, and currently in developing several new shows for Broadway and National Tour.

Fickinger's niece, Jessica Roy, wrote and shared his obitiuary via Facebook:

Steve Fickinger, the Tony Award-winning producer and creative executive who shepherded musicals like "Dear Evan Hansen," "Newsies," "The Lion King" and others into existence, died suddenly on June 17 at his home in Laguna Beach. He was 62.
Steven Thomas Fickinger was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1960, the youngest of five children to parents Wayne and Joan Fickinger. The stage beckoned early: Steve was appearing in commercials for Brown's Chicken by the time he was in high school. He attended New Trier High School West, where he performed on stage with future Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. New Trier inducted him (Steve, not Rahm) into the alumni Hall of Achievement in 2013. After that, he headed west to UCLA, where he was the first recipient of the Carol Burnett Musical Award for excellence in performance. After college, he spent several years in New York City as a working stage actor before relocating back to the West Coast.

Steve began his career at Disney as a temp in the mail room. Over the course of two decades with the Mouse, he worked his way up to Director of Creative Development for Walt Disney Feature Animation, where he oversaw the creation and execution of "Mulan," "Tarzan," and "Lilo and Stitch." After that, he served as the Vice President of Creative Development for Disney Theatrical Group. He supervised six Broadway shows from idea to premiere during that period, including six-time Tony Award-winning "The Lion King" and "Aida." Steve also personally oversaw the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of "Newsies," the record-breaking national tour of "High School Musical," and the long-running Broadway production of "Aladdin." He was also proud to oversee Disney Theatrical's Education and Outreach efforts, including Disney Musicals in Schools, which provided material resources and teaching artists free of charge to schools under-served in the arts.

After leaving Disney in 2013, Steve struck out as an independent theatrical producer, launching FickStern Productions. The company's first endeavor, "Dear Evan Hansen," would go on to win six Tony Awards, two Drama League Awards, a Grammy, a Critics' Circle Award, and three Laurence Olivier Awards. Steve was one of the people on stage at the 2017 Tony Awards accepting the statue for Best Musical.
At the time of his passing, Steve had a number of projects in development, including "Live at the Crescendo Club: An Evening with Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Pearl Bailey," written and directed by Seret Scott and produced with Steve's close friend and four-time Grammy Award-winning icon Deniece Williams. Steve was also the executive producer of "Rock of Ages" at The Bourbon Room in Hollywood, where Nick Cordero was reprising his role in the show before his death due to COVID in 2020.

In addition to his professional and creative achievements, Steve was known for a lot of things. He was a sharp dresser whose eclectic style landed him in multiple red carpet photo galleries and, just this past February, in the Style section of the Sunday New York Times. He had impeccable taste in decor, and said if he hadn't gone into entertainment, he would have been an interior decorator. (We don't know that interior decorating has its own version of the Tony Awards, but we're sure he would have won one.) He loved having the latest gadgets, including what he described as a close, personal relationship with his iPad; and had just figured out how to do duet videos on his TikTok. He threw legendary parties at his beloved home in the Hollywood Hills where he'd lived since 1998.
Steve's philanthropic pursuits included AIDS Walk, a cause for which he helped raise more than $15 million. He was also involved with the Los Angeles Food Mission, Meals on Wheels, and the Race to Erase MS.

He was a vibrant, charming, wacky, hysterical man, profoundly generous, the best friend you could ask for, and we loved him so.

Steve had recently welcomed two exciting new additions into his life: A second home in Laguna Beach, and his first great-nephew, Luke. He leaves those behind, as well as his heartbroken siblings and their spouses (Joan and Bill Frazier, Jan and Dennis Roy, Michael and Emily Fickinger, and Ellen Fickinger), his devastated nieces, nephews, and nephews-in-law (Jessica Roy and Joe Magdalena, Charlotte Roy and Sandy Albert, Andrew Frazier, Kathryn Roy, Carolyn Roy, and Joey Fickinger), his dog Nicki, and a wide, warm circle of friends, neighbors, and colleagues on both coasts and around the globe.
In his spare time, Steve prolifically posted his musings and things that moved him on Facebook. Of the many topics he touched on, he had this to say about what comes in the next life: He'd like his casket to be strewn with Pretzel Crisps (a detail we hope to work out with the funeral home). He hopes there are dogs waiting to greet him. And he knows he'll be reunited with his mom when he gets there.

A funeral will be held in Chicago and a memorial service in Los Angeles. Details to come.
In the meantime, if you'd like to honor Steve, be the best-dressed person at the next function you attend. Or, hell, the best-dressed person at the grocery store. See a Broadway show. Drink a no-sugar Red Bull or an obscenely large glass of Chardonnay on a patio. Adopt a small dog. Plan a trip with a big group of your closest pals (A Steve-ism he lived by: "You can't make new old friends."). Baffle a waiter with your plainly stated dietary preferences. (If you need inspiration, Steve's was "I don't drink hot beverages.") Get a piece of art professionally framed. Show up at a friend's house with pastries. Every time you go on a trip, bring home a little treasure to remember it by. Be kind. Throw your head back and laugh as hard as you can.

Another Steve-ism, originated by his mother: "Life's a ball." Live like it.

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