Jack Lee is one of the most respected musical directors in the theatre. His career has embraced conducting numerous Broadway shows, and national and international tours.
Originally from Cleveland, he performed as an actor in musicals at that city’s famous Cain Park Theatre. He worked at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City as an assistant conductor and then conducted at summer musicals at the Dallas Summer Musicals and the circuit of theaters for John Kenley in Warren, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio.
In 1973 was cast in the role of "Doc" on the CBS Soap Opera LOVE OF LIFE for a year. Jack played the role of Cosme McCoon in the Off-Broadway production of SOUVENIR starring Judy Kaye.
His first Broadway conducting assignment was KICKS & CO., a pre-Broadway musical by Oscar Brown Jr. starring Burgess Meredith. Next came FRANK MERRIWELL then GEORGE M with Joel Grey, APPLAUSE, with Lauren Bacall, SWEET CHARITY with Gwen Verdon, followed by a tour of the show with Chita Rivera, FUNNY GIRL with Marilyn Michaels and Lillian Roth, Richard Rodgers’ NO STRINGS with Howard Keel and Barbara McNair, FIG LEAVES ARE FALLING with Barry Nelson and Dorothy Loudon, IRENE with Debbie Reynolds that led into a West Coast revival of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, directed by Gower Champion and starring Debbie Reynolds, KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY with Burt Lancaster, TAKE ME ALONG, with Gene Kelly, a tour and Broadway run of PETER PAN starring Sandy Duncan, NICK & NORA with Barry Bostwick, Joanna Gleason and Christine Baranski, MY ONE AND ONLY on Broadway, on tour and the in Far East with Tommy Tune and Twiggy, and later with Sandy Duncan, Stephanie Zimbalist and Lucie Arnaz.
He continued his association with Tommy Tune on Broadway and on tour with GRAND HOTEL, by Robert Wright and George Forrest. His association with Sandy Duncan continued with productions of I DO! I DO!, THE APPLE TREE, and SOUTH PACIFIC. Between a Broadway revival of MY FAIR LADY starring Richard Chamberlain and a tour of the show in Europe playing SRO engagements in Berlin, Munich, Paris, and other cities, he conducted a new production of OKLAHOMA for the Arizona State Theatre which utilized the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.
Jack has served as the musical director for the nightclub acts of such notable performers as Georgia Gibbs, Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Peter Palmer, Robert Horton and Juliet Prowse. He was a guest conductor on the Ed Sullivan television variety house and played in the US, Canada and Europe with Tommy Tune and the Manhattan Rhythm Kings.
While on tour with SWEET CHARITY, he was asked do all the vocal direction for the filming of SWEET CHARITY with Shirley MacLaine and again with Shirley MacLaine in the film POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE. Jack wrote the dance music for Carol Burnett’s television special, CALAMITY JANE.
In June of 1997 Mr. Lee traveled to Israel with a team of American artists, working in conjunction with the Leonard Bernstein Foundation to work with Israeli professional singers and actors on the musical theatre techniques and styles that the US is noted for.
In 1998 Jack conducted the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids concert at Avery Fisher Hall with all the women who played Sweet Charity during its runs (Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, BebeNeuworth, Donna McKechnie, Debbie Allen) plus Robert Goulet, Whoopie Goldberg, Dom DeLuise and Charles Nelson Reilly.
He is a contributing staff member of New York University and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He is a frequent guest instructor and master class teacher at his alma mater, Baldwin-Wallace and has held music seminars in Essen, Germany and Tel Aviv. While performing such an assignment at Baldwin-Wallace he was the subject of a PBS television documentary on him and his work. The show won an Emmy.
For the past few years Jack has provided music and vocal direction for the Broadway bound show ALL THAT GLITTERS slated to open on Broadway in 2016.
Sadly, Jack passed away on March 2, 2016. He was still teaching as adjunct professor in the drama department of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Up until the very end Jack was working on various projects, including All That Glitters, the Liberace musical, Zarra, and a new opera by Laurence Guittard.
[Based on a 2004 biography by Roberta Prada]