Margo Lion, the Tony-Award winning producer of “Hairspray,” died on Friday evening at the age of 75, according to media reports.
Lion, who also brought “Jelly’s Last Jam” and “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” to Broadway, passed away after suffering a brain aneurysm, following a chronic illness, according to the New York Times.
Lion’s long career included in theater also included working as a producer on shows including “Angels in America,” “Caroline, or Change,” ”Seven Guitars “ and “The Wedding Singer.”
Collaborators of Lion, including “Hairspray” composer and co-lyricist Marc Shaiman and one of its stars, Harvey Fierstein, took to social media to pay tribute to the producer.
“When Margo Lion, a complete stranger then, called to hire me to write (just) the music for the musical of ‘Hairspray’ that she was dreaming of producing, she saved me and Scott from a life in LA that had become a creative graveyard for our theatrical writing partnership,” Shaiman wrote on Facebook. “We convinced Margo that we should write the lyrics by writing a few songs on spec (that are all in the show now) and we were on our way.”
“How many people have an idea and, through Herculian perseverance and determination, bring that idea to fruition? She was one hell of a person,” Fierstein wrote.
In addition to her own producing work, Lion also served on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities under President Obama and as a mentor for the next generation of producers as part of the T. Fellowship program. In a 2018 interview with Broadway News, Lion said that while producers could learn the technical aspects of the business, some qualities could not be taught.
“You can certainly learn the steps,” Lion said. “What you can’t learn is what’s going to be successful because no one can learn that. A lot of that has to be instinct.”