The South Florida theater community is reacting to the death of critically acclaimed playwright Michael Aman, 56, who lost a three-year battle with cancer on Saturday, May 15.
“He is going to be missed,” said Andy Rogow, artistic director of Island City Stage. “He was a playwright with a unique voice who had a great sense of humor.”
Island City Stage produced two world premieres of Aman comedies: Carbonell-nominated “Poz” (2014) and “Feeding the Bear” (2015), and Rogow starred in the latter as a troubled gay son with body dysmorphia who struggles with an elderly father suffering from dementia.
“He loved writing quirky characters with whom audiences could always empathize. He always saw the positive side and never wrote things that were too heavy, because his outlook on life was always optimistic,” added Rogow.
“This is a real loss for South Florida theater and especially LGBT theater,” said producer and Plays of Wilton artistic director Ronnie Larsen. “Michael always told our community’s stories from such a distinct perspective.”
Aman’s husband of 21 years, director and longtime collaborator Michael Bush, said the playwright nearly always managed to write daily.
“He fought a hard battle. There were good times and bad,” Bush said, especially in the last year. “As a writer, Michael would sit and figure out exactly what the best words should be, especially when he was writing lyrics. It would drive him nuts when other writers’ rhymes didn’t quite work. He especially loved that it drove [Stephen] Sondheim crazy, too. They shared that.”
In recent years, Aman and Bush collaborated on several productions, including the Off Broadway hit “Muscle Bears the Musical,” “Stalker Bob and His Mother,” and “Looking for Dick, Finding Jane.”
Aman grew up in Ontario, New York, a small town outside Rochester. He completed his master’s degree and met his future husband at Brooklyn College, where Bush was teaching his American musical theater history class. Aman later earned his doctorate from the City University of New York and taught at the College of Westchester. The couple moved to South Florida in 2015 after Bush accepted a faculty position at the University of Miami.
Bush said a memorial service will be held for family on June 26 in Rochester, but he has special plans to remember Aman this summer: “Michael wanted to make sure his work was done and I’m taking that seriously. As artists, we create to ward off the darkness around us.”
Bush will direct “Off Balance,” one of Aman’s previously unproduced plays at Empire Stage in Fort Lauderdale, July 8 – 25. Following the final performance of the “charming comedy,” a celebration of life event for friends and colleagues in the theater community is planned in Wilton Manors.