In Memoriam: Malcolm Ewen, Stage Manager, Director

by Michael Eddy
Malcolm Ewen
Malcolm Ewen

After a battle with cancer and a recent fall, Malcolm Ewen passed away on May 20, 2019 surrounded by family and friends. Ewen was a longtime stage manager with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, which had made him a member of the ensemble in February of this year. He was also a founding director of the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company in Vermont where he returned every summer for over 30 years. Many of his friends and colleagues have been sharing remembrances on social media of Ewen. We send our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Steppenwolf put out a statement on Facebook about Ewen’s passing:
“We are heartbroken to announce that Malcolm Ewen, Steppenwolf Ensemble Member and beloved colleague, friend and long-time Stage Manager for the theater, has passed after a long battle with cancer.

Malcolm has been a member of the Steppenwolf family since 1987. He stage managed over 40 Steppenwolf shows and took four to Broadway, including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Malcolm was truly the best of us. Welcoming every actor and artist through our doors, he carried the originating spirit of ensemble, embodied it, and passed it along to each production that had the good fortune of Malcolm at the helm. He went about his work with grace and with humor and, above all else, a deep respect for and love of the people who joined him in creating it.

We invite all to join us in Front Bar at 5pm today to celebrate Malcolm and his life. At 7pm, the lights of our marquee will go dark for one minute in his honor. This evening's performance of The Children is dedicated to Malcolm and his indelible impact on our Steppenwolf family.”

Weston Playhouse released a short statement on Facebook:
“We are reeling from the loss of our beloved Founding Director, Malcolm Ewen who passed away last night. He was truly the heart of our theater and will be profoundly missed.

This image by Geoffrey Wade perfectly captures our dear friend Mal's joyful spirit, which will forever be in the foundation of Weston Playhouse Theatre Company.”
Malcolm Ewen. Photo by Geoffrey Wade

Steppenwolf announced on February 15, 2019, the addition of its longtime stage manager, Ewen into the Steppenwolf ensemble. "There is no one who embodies what it means to be a company member more than Malcolm Ewen,” stated Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro. “We all know the lie of the theatre is that it's made by the people you can see. For more than 30 years, Malcolm has been a pillar of Steppenwolf contributing immensely to the honor, to the legacy and to the spirit of this company. Malcolm has touched the lives of every single member of our ensemble and it's time for the world to know the impact he has made-and continues to make-on us all.”

Steppenwolf co-founder Gary Sinise commented at the time of the announcement, "Malcolm Ewen is our brother, he's our dear friend, he's our gifted steady hand ensuring, in so many instances over the years, that our productions sailed into port without hitting the rocks. Malcolm has been a part of our Steppenwolf family and his officially becoming a member is simply a formal way to tell him we love him, we appreciate him, we're grateful for him and that he has been a member of our ensemble living within our hearts for decades."

"I feel like I'm a lucky guy. I have been given the opportunity for over 30 years to work at one of the greatest theatres in the world,” shared Ewen in regards to Steppenwolf’s announcement of his inclusion into the ensemble. “I've had the chance to work with hundreds of extraordinarily talented people-those onstage, on the creative teams, on the production staff and backstage; with many wonderful artistic and executive directors to those on the front of house and administrative staffs through to the parking lot attendants. I'm fortunate to attain a goal that I thought wasn't even a possibility-to be the first stage manager to be invited to join the Ensemble.”

Ewen had worked at Steppenwolf Theatre Company since 1987 and his Steppenwolf credits include FamiliarThe Doppelgänger (an international farce)BLKSThe ChristiansMary Page Marlowe, John Steinbeck’s East of EdenAirline HighwayRussian Transportafter the quakeAmerican BuffaloThe MarchThe Tempest and Man From Nebraska. He has taken four Steppenwolf Theatre Company shows to Broadway including The Grapes of Wrath and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? both of which won Tony Awards. Also, on Broadway, he was the Production Stage Manager of Paul Simon’s musical The Capeman. He has been fortunate enough to take Steppenwolf productions all around the country and the world.

Ewen was proud to have served on the Council of Actors’ Equity Association. He is a recipient of the Del Hughes Award for lifetime achievement in stage management given by the Stage Manager’s Association of the United States and of the Robert Christen Award for Technical Collaboration presented by the Michael Merritt Awards. He was an adjunct faculty member at the Theatre School at DePaul university for five years in the early 1990s.

A graduate of Amherst College, he has returned to Vermont during summers for over thirty years to direct at the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, where he is one of the Founding Directors. Malcolm has also worked at the Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Remains Theatre, Berkeley Rep., Arena Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Crossroads Theatre, and the La Jolla Playhouse.