By Maya Robinson
Have the emotions and images conveyed on stage ever been a transcendent, life-changing experience for you? Fourteen-year-old Emanuel “Manny” Azenberg had such an experience while in the audience of Skipper Next to God starring John Garfield and directed by Jan De Hartog. After meeting John Garfield, Azenberg realized the stage was his world and his calling. He dreamed of becoming part of theater and that is exactly what he did. Azenberg has been nominated for 174 Tony awards and has won 42 Tony Awards for his stage production.
Azenberg has produced shows such as Odd Couple, MacBeth, Mark Twain Tonight!, Broadway Bound, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Movin’ Out and was the General Manager of Rent. When asked how he chooses his plays he quoted on of the many Neil Simon plays he has produced, ‘Remember, it has to be about something’. He only produces plays that move him; the titles above, and indeed all of his plays, are all about something relevant to society that move him and others to think.
Azenberg believes “a producer creates an atmosphere – or tries to – that is genuinely comfortable, so the best creative work can take place. You try to keep peace…” He has mastered the art of producing plays. Azenberg has produced a variety of plays from originals to revivals; from plays to musicals, not all producers are able to switch genres and find success. Azenberg produces under the name Iron Mountain Productions, which he owns and oversees.
Azenberg career has not been limited to producing. He also works to bring theater to students as a teacher. Azenberg taught theater at Duke University for 20 years. He had his students rip off the first page of the play before reading it; thereby allowing and encouraging the students to give him a visceral and personal response to the play.
Azenberg is now 74 and has been working on Broadway for at least 50 years. He is married to Lani Azenberg and has five children.
¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬”Playbill On-line’s Brief Encounter with Emanuel Azenberg.” Interview by Kenneth Jones.
PLAYBILL. 27 Jan. 2004. Web. 5 Sept. 2009.
Rothstein, Mervyn. “A Life in the Theater: Emanuel (Manny) Azenberg.” All about Jewish
Theater.Web.5 Sept. 2009.