FORT WORTH, TEXAS (July 21, 2015) – Musicians and singers will take part in The Maestro Remembered, a musical tribute to Joseph Stecko, Casa Manana Theatre’s Musical Director Emeritus, who passed away Aug. 21, 2014. The performance is at 7 p.m. Monday, July 27, at the theatre, 3101 W. Lancaster in Fort Worth. The performance is free and open to the public. Reservations are required, and may be made by calling 817.332.2272, ext. 3.
Hosted by longtime Fort Worth favorite David Coffee, The Maestro Remembered will reflect on the 35 years Stecko entertained audiences as musical director of Casa Manana Theatre. Former Casa musician turned Broadway conductor Eugene Gwozdz will guide a 27-piece orchestra through an evening of the Maestro’s favorite musical overtures and numbers, including Gypsy, Oklahoma! and Fiddler on the Roof, among others. Former Casa actors and ensemble members will come from across the country to create the evening’s chorus. The highlight will include a live performance from one of Stecko’s and Casa’s favorite artists, Ruta Lee.
Adding to the tribute will be a number of testimonies from former Casa Manana producer Bud Franks, former NBC5 theatre critic Bobbie Wygant, Casa Manana Board Chairman Rob Hood, Buff Shurr, Charles Ballinger, Betty Bob Buckley, Fran Franks, Kim Dacus, Debbie Brown, Rosemary Rumbley and Zak Reynolds, along with video messages expected from Tony Award winner Betty Buckley and Kevin Ligon and Kristin Chenoweth (On the Twentieth Century, Broadway); among others.
Affectionately named the Silver Fox under the Silver Dome by Ruta Lee, Stecko was born March 19, 1923, in Pittsburgh. He earned two bachelor’s degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now the Carnegie Mellon School of Music) in musical education and music, and a Master of Fine Arts in music. Stecko had a national reputation as a music director, conducting an off-Broadway revival of Leave it to Jane by Jerome Kern and P.G. Wodehouse in 1958 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring the late Rue McClanahan in 1964. He also served as guest conductor for the CBS Symphony and conducted the Metropolitan Opera’s brass section at Carnegie Hall.
In 1967, Stecko was invited by Casa Manana’s artistic director Melvin O. Dacus to be a temporary conductor. The position became permanent, and Stecko retired as music director emeritus in 2002. The Live Theatre League of Tarrant County honored Stecko in 2010 with its biggest honor, the Elston Brooks Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to live theatre.