(Berlind played a role in producing more than 100 plays and musicals. And while he kept an eye on the bottom line, he could be seduced by sheer artistry; Photo: Even as he experienced flops, Mr. Berlind had many successes, like the 2017 revival of “Hello, Dolly!,” starring Bette Midler. He had “enormous fortitude and persistence,” said Scott Rudin, one of his co-producers on this and many other shows.Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times; via Pam Green.)
Success on Broadway came slowly. Mr. Berlind’s first production, in 1976, was the disastrous “Rex,” a Richard Rodgers musical (with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) about Henry VIII, which the Times theater critic Clive Barnes said “has almost everything not going for it.”
As it happened, the music of Mr. Rodgers bookended Mr. Berlind’s career. His last show, of which he was one of several producers, was the darkly reimagined Tony-winning 2019 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” (That show made Broadway history when the actress Ali Stroker became the first person who uses a wheelchair to win a Tony.)
After “Rex,” Mr. Berlind co-produced six other shows before he had his first hit with the original 1980 production of “Amadeus,” in which a mediocre composer burns with jealousy over the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The play, written by Peter Shaffer, directed by Peter Hall and starring Ian McKellen and Tim Curry, took home several Tonys, including best play.
Two more successes quickly followed: “Sophisticated Ladies,” a 1981 revue with music by Duke Ellington; and “Nine,” a 1982 musical based on the Fellini film “8½” about a tortured film director facing professional and romantic crises.
Along the way were plenty of flops. Producing on Broadway is always risky, with no surefire formula for a hit. It became even more challenging in the late 20th century, as theater people migrated to Hollywood, labor and advertising costs soared and high ticket prices discouraged audiences. Getting shows off the ground required more and more producers to pool their resources, and even then they were unlikely to recoup their investments.
One of Mr. Berlind’s achievements was staying in the game. Despite the challenges, he took chances on shows because he believed in them, and because he could afford to lose as often as he won.
“I know it’s not worth it economically,” he told The Times in 1998. “But I love theater.”
His successes included “Proof,” “Doubt,” “The History Boys,” the 2012 revival of “Death of a Salesman” with Philip Seymour Hoffman and the 2017 revival of “Hello, Dolly!” with Bette Midler.
Scott Rudin, who produced about 30 shows with Mr. Berlind, said that Mr. Berlind was propelled by “enormous fortitude and persistence.”
“He was not dissuaded by the obstacles that dissuaded other people,” Mr. Rudin said in an email. “He had enormous positivity, which is much, much more rare than you might think.”
That became evident after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when Broadway went dark for 48 hours, a sign of the economic uncertainty that hung over the city.
At the time, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani urged theaters to reopen quickly, and they did. But a half-dozen shows closed, and one on the verge of doing so was “Kiss Me, Kate,” in which Mr. Berlind had been deeply involved and of which he was enormously fond. He was enthralled with Cole Porter’s music, and everything in the show had clicked. The winner of five Tonys, including best revival of a musical, “Kate” had been running for nearly two years and was not scheduled to close until Dec. 30, 2001.