The obit pages have a habit of breaking bad news. This morning’s obit pages recounts the colourful life of Evan Steadman. He was one of my all-time favourite clients, who actually got what I do and loved the process of great promotional publicity
In 1993 Steadman employed me to publicize his stage concept “Maxwell: The Musical Review”. He thought up the idea before Maxwell’s death, but it became a much bigger idea after the millionaire died. I believe great theatrical publicity requires risk, adventure and a sense of fun and Steadman allowed my creative juices to go into overdrive. Deep down I think Steadman knew that his musical wouldn’t generate glowing reviews and legally it might never get staged.
This was Steadman’s last hurrah, considering that he was on his second liver transplant. He was a powerhouse and an entrepreneur but had been dogged by ill health in his middle years. He was a showman who allowed me to conjure up a campaign that generated ink and interest but also made Steadman and his show something that people wanted to see.
After the launch of the idea, I speculated who should be cast as Maxwell. Steadman feverishly churned out emails to every large actor who might fit the role – John Goodman, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Griffiths… basically anyone who was really fat: the news of refusals filled the diary pages. Then we staged an “open rehearsal” for Maxwell look-alikes as the show required seven Maxwells. The oversized out-of-work support talent queued around the Criterion theatre to take part and we even managed to persuade ex-Maxwell editors to help with the script.
News of their reminiscences caused a lot of kerffuffle in the High Court, but still we soldiered on despite fears that the show would never see the light of day. Closer to the previews, we allowed anyone in a forty mile radius of London with the surname of Maxwell to come to the previews for half price. Dispossessed Mirror group pensioners were given free entry to the previews. On the day of the first night, lawyers had their way and the musical was stopped. It hit the front pages of National and International newspapers and was driven by soundbites from the impresario Steadman. The musical was never shown but Steadman had his fifteen minutes of fame and we all had fun.
I regularly to bumped into Steadman, but his energy was diminished. Illness has finally taken him and the entertainment world has lost an odd maverick who knew how to turn theatre into an event.