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Chicago and Hairspray film producer Craig Zadan dies aged 69

Craig Zadan. Photo: Lev Radin/Shutterstock Craig Zadan. Photo: Lev Radin/Shutterstock
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Tributes have been paid to the American producer and director Craig Zadan following his death on August 21, aged 69.

Noted for his adaptations of musicals for American television, Zadan’s death comes less than a month before the Emmy awards ceremony in September in which his production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, screened earlier this year on NBC, has been nominated in 13 categories.

In a statement, Lloyd Webber said: “I first met Craig in 1977 and we formed a great friendship at the time, which I was hugely glad to resume over the fantastic production of Jesus Christ Superstar for NBC. Craig, [his long-time producing partner] Neil Meron and I were planning other projects and I have lost a friend and valued colleague. Music will be the poorer without him.”

Zadan made his Broadway debut with the revue Up in One, which he conceived and directed in 1979. He went on to co-produce Neil Simon and Burt Bacharach’s Promises, Promises in 2010 and the Daniel Radcliffe-led 2011 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

With Meron, he successfully transferred theatre hits Chicago and Hairspray to the cinema screen, and were planning NBC’s next live musical, Hair, for 2019.

Zadan was also the author of Sondheim and Co, a profile of composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

On social media, Barbra Streisand said she was “shocked and saddened” by Zadan’s death. She added: “He was always a joy to work with. His kindness and his creativity will surely be missed.”

Donna Murphy, currently appearing in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway, tweeted: “So deeply shocked and saddened to hear this news. Such a passionate and committed man.”

Among other tributes, Hollywood star Kevin Bacon, who appeared in the hit film Footloose produced by Zadan, said he “had music and dance in his soul. And when people are dancing and singing, the world is a better place. RIP Craig and Cut Loose!”

Describing him as “a wonderful, kind spirit”, actor Neil Patrick Harris praised Zadan for having “brought musical theatre back to TV”.

A full obituary will appear in a future issue of The Stage.

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