b. 30 May 1912, New York City, New York, USA. Beginning his writing career as a member of the team behind television’s Your Show Of Shows and The Sid Caesar Show, from the 50s Stein wrote librettos for musical shows, some of which enjoyed modest success. These included Plain And Fancy (1955), Mr. Wonderful (1956, starring Sammy Davis Jnr.), The Body Beautiful (1958, with music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick), Juno (1959, scored by Marc Blitzstein), and Take Me Along (1959). It was in the 60s that Stein had the biggest success of his career with his libretto for Fiddler On The Roof (1964), for which he won a Tony Award and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award. In the late 60s and early 70s he was again successful with Zorba (1968, with a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb), and an updated revival of Irene (1973).
From the mid-70s on into the mid-80s, Stein’s shows were much less successful and did poorly at the box-office. These included So Long, 174th Street (1976), The Baker’s Wife (1976, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz), King Of Hearts (1978), Carmelina (1979) and Rags (1986). Although The Baker’s Wife struggled through out-of-town tryouts, certain qualities appealed to audiences and performers alike and it has enjoyed several revivals. Trevor Nunn staged it in London’s West End in 1989, and in the early 00s local theatre groups revived the show at various venues in the USA. Among the songs featured in the show are ‘Meadowlark’, ‘Proud Lady’ and ‘If I Have To Live Alone’. Also enjoying an afterlife is Rags, for which the music was composed by Charles Strouse with Schwartz again responsible for the lyrics of songs such as ‘Rags’, ‘Children Of The Wind’ and ‘What’s Wrong With That?’. In September 2000, Rags was staged at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theater with both Strouse and Stein in attendance on opening night.