Denver theater community pays tribute to Henry Lowenstein

Photo: Henry Lowenstein 1 (Denver Post image)The Mizel Arts and Culture Center (MACC) in Denver announced on Monday it will go ahead with its scheduled Oct. 22 tribute performance of Diane Samuels’ 1993 play “Kindertransport” in honor of Denver theater impresario Henry Lowenstein. The lauded stage director, designer and producer passed away at age 89 last week

“It doesn’t seem right to cancel,” MACC executive artistic director Steve Wilson says. “There is no single figure who has had a greater impact on theater in our region than Henry.”

The special performance will take place at the Pluss Theatre at MACC in the Jewish Community Center.

Initially, MACC planned an evening of speeches from community members about Lowenstein's impact on the area theater scene. Lowenstein, a Berlin native and Holocaust refugee, had intended to be present at the event and deliver a speech.

During the Nazi occupation, Lowenstein escaped to London as part of the Kindertransport, a rescue mission which saved around 10,000 refugee children in the months leading up to the outbreak of World War II. He arrived in the United States in 1947 at age 22.

Samuels' harrowing play follows a child separated from her family during the Holocaust. Directed by Richard H. Pegg and co-produced by Theatre Or, the performance will run during MACC's 7th annual Neustadt JAAMM Fest, a celebration of Jewish culture through the arts.

"We were unbelievably awestruck with Henry’s rendition of his time in Nazi Germany as a young Jewish boy," Wilson says. "We had this idea that this particular play would be the perfect way for the Jewish community to honor Henry." 

Owing to Lowenstein's death, MACC will scale back the Oct. 22 tribute.

In addition to this event, the center plans to host a memorial celebration for Lowenstein on Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Elaine Wolf Theatre. The memorial is free and open to the public.

"We are so overjoyed to be able to host the memorial," Wilson says. "Henry instilled that fire that’s in many of us to collaborate and to revel in the arts scene, not just in our individual triumphs."

Lowenstein passed away on Oct. 7 at Porter Hospice in Denver. He died of complications following surgery.