Playbill’s Brian Nebenzahl passes away at 86

September 14, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The retired chairman and founder of Playbill Brian Nebenzahl passed away on Sunday in Sydney, aged 86.

Brian Nebenzahl

Brian was the man behind Playbill, Australia’s leading performing arts program publisher and merchandiser. He started his career selling cinema advertising, but in 1958 he and friend, Lance Peters, came up with a groundbreaking idea to publish and sell programs.

Brian Nebenzahl was a true icon in the Australian live entertainment and commercial theatre industry, best known for transforming the performing arts program and merchandising experience across Australia.

For over sixty years, Brian and wife Jocelyn Nebenzahl produced programs and merchandise for the world’s top international musicals, shows and tours, as well as iconic Australian organisations such as Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, Sydney Theatre Company and more.

With son and Playbill CEO Michael Nebenzahl, Brian and Jocelyn grew Playbill’s program and merchandising operations around the world – to Broadway and beyond, across theatre, dance, music and sport.

Brian was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1998, in recognition of his service to the publishing industry and the community, and the prestigious JC Williamson Award in 2010, for shaping the future of the Australian live entertainment and performing arts industry for the better.

In a message to the Playbill team today, Playbill CEO Michael Nebenzahl said: “My father was an entrepreneur in the true meaning of the word, branching into so many activities over his career and life,” he said.

“Playbill’s first client was at the Tivoli, and the rest is history. Brian was well loved and admired throughout the industryꟷhe knew everyone and everything that was going on. He worked with producers large and small and was always ready to help. Those who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Brian have lost a dear friend, whose honesty, warmth and sense of humour will never be forgotten.”

A passionate advocate for the arts, Brian had a longstanding love of Jazz music. He promoted several Australian tours of jazz greats including the Newport Folk Festival at Newport Jazz Festival in the mid-1960s.

In private life, he cherished his family. Brian and Jocelyn married in 1957 and recently celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary. They had three children Vicki, Michael and Linda and six grandchildren, Lucy, Danny, Lauren, Matt, Becky and Zoe.



One Response to “Playbill’s Brian Nebenzahl passes away at 86”
  1. Claudio Frank Kreffl says:

    Brian Nebenzahl lived in Hornsby, was a Provost in the Australian Army, also the creative owner of Playbill. I was his Security Officer and my Guards stopped a robbery in the nick of time. His beautiful mansion was dismantled and replaced with an ugly house.
    When the fanatical scum of the lowest denomination attacked the United States, Brian provided me with the star-spangled banner that I flew next to my own Australian flag.
    I then received a mystery-call from Time Magazine when they received some powder in an envelope and my Guards took turns to protect that building. Incidentally, I have been reading Time, the first time when I was in the Army – an honest magazine to which I am subscribed (they even sent me a Time rain-resisting jacket!)
    Sorry to hear that Brian is somewhere in the Universe. Playbill flourishes under the tutelage of his and Jocelyn’s offspring.

    Fond regards,

    Claudio Frank Kreffl

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