Back in the 70s and 80s, I was a regular theater goer in Philadelphia at all five downtown houses-the Academy of Music, the Walnut Street, the Forrest, the Shubert, and the Locust Street. The subject man’s name was on almost every ticket and I wondered who he was. Here is an article from a 1997 obituary. He was very prominent.
Moe Septee, a theatrical producer and founder of the successful Philly Pops orchestra, died on Tuesday at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital here. He was 71 and had homes in Philadelphia and Deal, N.J. He died of pancreatic cancer. Mr. Septee, who is credited with breathing new life into Philadelphia’s theater community, staged showcase productions of eight Broadway shows and produced a number of operas and musicals that traveled to Broadway and beyond. He founded the Philly Pops in 1979.
For three decades, he operated the All Star-Forum, which presented classical music and dance events.Mr. Septee was 4 when he and his family arrived from Poland and settled in Newark. He abandoned plans to become a rabbi in favor of a show business career, and started off by writing scripts for radio programs.As a producer, he was adept at presenting a broad range of attractions featuring everything from break dancing to ballets.
Mr. Septee drew nontraditional audiences, including young people and blacks, by bringing in hits like ”Your Arms Too Short to Box With God,” ”Bubblin’ Brown Sugar” and an all-black production of ”Guys and Dolls.””Young people and blacks have never really felt welcome at our theaters,” he said in a 1972 interview. ”I decided to fill the gap.’Mr. Septee was also a driving force behind the Avenue of the Arts, a performing-arts district on Broad Street in downtown Philadelphia. He was president of a nonprofit group, the Sassafras Corporation, which built the Arts Bank theater and a jazz center, the Clef Club.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth; three daughters, Yael Kane, Elisa Lunzer and Rena Goldstein; two sisters, and five grandchildren.