Beloved Former Playhouse Artistic Director Has Died

Apr 3, 2019

Former Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park artistic director Ed Stern has died.  

An e-mail from the Playhouse says Stern succumbed to a battery of health issues Tuesday after battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer for more than eight years.  

He was 72.  

"Ed led the Playhouse for 20 years, fully one-third of our entire history and I am immensely proud to have been his partner for that entire time," said Buzz Ward, Playhouse managing director. "During his tenure, we won two Tony Awards, had three of our shows on Broadway, established a new play commissioning program, and greatly expanded our education and outreach programs. Ed set the bar for theatrical artistic excellence within our community. Beyond that, he helped foster the growth of the other professional theaters in town and championed all of the Arts."

During his tenure, Stern directed 40 plays. He also helped with a major renovation of the Playhouse's public and production support spaces.

Ward said Stern will be remembered as a key leader at the Playhouse.

For theater critic Rick Pender, "Ed was a wonderful man, a real mensch as many people said, not only a talented director and a great judge of talent and scripts but also someone who cared about our local arts community and was always ready to step up and advance the larger cause."

For former Assistant Artistic Director Michael Haney, Ed was a "force of nature...had a wonderful instinct for great theatre and new plays....and enabled so many great things to happen at the Playhouse."

WVXU will rebroadcast on Friday April 5 at 8 p.m. an expanded version of Around Cincinnati's tribute to Stern upon his retirement from Playhouse in the Park which aired on May 20, 2012.