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Broadway community to celebrate the life of Tony Award winner Sheldon Harnick

Harvey Fierstein, Danny Burstein, Judy Kuhn and more will honor the “Fiddler on the Roof” lyricist.

Sheldon Harnick (Credit: Margery Gray Harnick)

The Broadway community will pay tribute to lyricist Sheldon Harnick with a celebration of life ceremony on Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. Harnick passed away on June 23 at the age of 99.

The event will take place at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre. Limited seating is available to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Several Broadway performers are scheduled to appear, many of whom are alumni of Harnick’s Broadway productions: Danny Burstein, Robert Cuccioli, Jason Danieley, Harvey Fierstein, Jessica Hecht, Judy Kuhn, Nancy Opel, Elena Shaddow, Alexandra Silber, Emily Skinner and Karen Ziemba. Additionally, Rob Fisher, David Rockwell, Alan Schmuckler and Deborah Grace Winer will appear. Sherman Yellen, who wrote the book opposite Harnick’s lyrics for 1973’s “The Rothschilds” and 1977’s “Rex,” will also be a part of the daytime ceremony.

The memorial will coincide with another Harnick honor: At 6:45 p.m. on that day, the lights of all 41 Broadway theaters will be dimmed for one minute in his memory. 

Harnick enjoyed a six-decade long career on the Main Stem. Beginning with “Leonard Sillman’s New Faces of 1952,” Harnick’s nascent Broadway years were marked with contributing a few songs to various productions. “The Body Beautiful,” which opened in 1958, was the first show for which he was billed as sole lyricist and his first of many Broadway outings with composer Jerry Bock. This was quickly followed in 1959 by “Fiorello!,” a musical chronicling the life of former New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia. For his efforts, Harnick was awarded not only the 1960 Best Musical Tony Award (which was shared jointly at the time with a production’s creatives and producers), but also the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. 

Harnick would go on to write the lyrics for some of Broadway’s most notable and often-revived musicals, including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “She Loves Me” and “The Apple Tree.” 

The winner of three competitive Tony Awards for “Fiddler” and “Fiorello!,” Harnick received an additional special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in 2016.