Obituary: Ravinia Festival’s General Manager Marcus L. Overton Passes Away At 75

By David Salazar

Marcus L. Overton passed away on June 9, 2019 at the age of 75.

The former production stage manager at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the general manager for the Ravinia Festival, succumbed to a long battle with kidney failure.

A 54-year veteran in the world of performing arts management, he took on a wide range of art forms including opera, theatre, chamber music, and dance. He was also an advisory panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and, in addition to his work for Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Ravinia Festival, he was director of performing arts at the Smithsonian Institution and production director of Spoleto Festival USA. He also enjoyed a 20-year association with La Jolla Music Society.

Born in 1943 in Calhoun Georgia, Overton initiated his career as an actor at Northwestern University. After graduating in 1965, he worked as an actor for such companies as the Southeastern Shakespeare Festival in Atlanta and Eagles Mere Repertory Company in Chicago;  he also begin working at the Lyric Opera of Chicago managing supernumeraries.

Between 1978-83, Overton freelanced as a producer with such companies as the Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others.

“Whenever I think of Marcus, I always smile,” said Shari Hutchinson, recently retired VP for radio and TV programming at SCETV and a colleague of Overton’s for 20 years, in a press release. “He was such a source of boundless joy and energy and enthusiasm for life; curious about everything and equally knowledgeable, at once a student and a teacher of life and art and soul. I will miss him deeply.”