Ain’t No Sunshine When He’s Gone, Part 2: “You Always Do It Wrong”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The entirety of this post is taken directly from what Loeffelholz wrote in his notes immediately after the rehearsal.]

On Friday June 22, after Loeffelholz arrived at the Ambassador Theater, he encountered production stage manager David Hyslop who asked him if he wanted to rehearse in heels, an important component of the character’s costume. Loeffelholz replied only if he or Bobbie wanted to see him in them and asked what they were going to work on. Hyslop said he didn’t know and that Bobbie didn’t say.

According to Loeffelholz’s own handwritten notes after the rehearsal, he went upstairs where he greeted the dance captain with a hug and the usual pleasantries and when asked how he was, he replied he was great but he was “ready to rehearse.”

At that point Hyslop said he received a text from Bobbie saying he hadn’t slept all night and was running late. By now it was 1:15 and much of the cast had started to arrive. Bobbie finally arrived at 1:20 and after small talk with Stifelman and Hyslop he said to Loeffelholz, “I want to hear you sing,” adding that Loeffelholz was “never on” and he wanted to know why. Loeffelholz hadn’t performed the role since the last week of February.

Loeffelholz sang Mary Sunshine’s signature song, “A Little Bit of Good.” Silence from Bobbie until he said, “Again.” Loeffelholz sang it again. Bobbie then told Loeffelholz he should quit “overperforming it and being draggy” (i.e., like a drag queen), because “it is not a drag role. You need to be believable,” according to Loeffelholz’s notes.

Loeffelholz sang it again at which time Bobbie told him he couldn’t hear his lower register and he asked Loeffelholz for “more volume! I don’t believe what you’re telling me!”

Bobbie then said he was very disappointed and upset and stormed into the theater’s lobby at which point Stifelman took over the rehearsal instructing Loeffelholz to start in the middle of the song, adding “You always do it wrong.”

Loeffelholz sang it again. Bobbie entered the theater again and Stifelman repeated to him that Loeffelholz always does this part of the song incorrectly and could they do it again, according to Loeffelholz’s notes.

“I walked up to Walter and he just stared at me. I stared back and wanted him to say something.” – Jeff Loeffelholz’s rehearsal notes

Loeffelholz sang it again after which Stifelman told him he was singing the wrong notes and that it was impossible for her to follow him when he performs the role.

Loeffelholz sang “A Little Bit of Good” for the sixth time. Stifelman alleged that Loeffelholz was “oversinging it and talking too much,” according to Loeffelholz’s own handwritten notes. Stifelman had Loeffelholz sing the middle part and told him he was singing the wrong lyrics. Loeffelholz’s notes simply state, “I was not.”

Stifelman then asked Bobbie if he wanted Loeffelholz to sing it again. Bobbie said no, adding, “We’ve wasted enough time.” Bobbie then said to bring in the rest of the cast and Loeffelholz approached him. “I walked up to Walter and he just stared at me,” his notes read. “I stared back and wanted him to say something.”

“I appreciate your loyalty,” Bobbie finally said to Loeffelholz, according to his notes. “But I am an actor too, and you have to respect the production.”

“I cannot tell you what to do,” Bobbie continued. “But twenty-two years… I don’t agree with Equity and their ROP (run-of-the-play) contracts, but you make more money than I do with this production. It’s been twenty-two years … just saying.”

Loeffelholz wrote that Bobbie continued his icy stare at him. Loeffelholz thanked Bobbie for his time and shook his hand. Despite the vitriolic tone from Bobbie and Stifelman during the rehearsal, he remained professional.

“At that moment the cast was sitting behind me,” he wrote. “So confused.”

NEXT: The theater kid from Oklahoma realizes his dreams.

17 thoughts on “Ain’t No Sunshine When He’s Gone, Part 2: “You Always Do It Wrong”

  1. I am angry and my stomach is churning for Jeff after reading these posts. As an actor, there have been a couple of instances in my career that I would call bullying but nothing on this scale. My heart breaks because I was still in NYC when Jeff was cast in CHICAGO and remember how excited he was. I got to see him perform and recall how wonderful he was in the role. I hope that there is justice for Jeff.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tragic, but I don’t see how it is Walter Bobbie’s fault that he chose to take his own life. So it seems that management wanted him out after 22 years, but weren’t willing to buy out his contract. It’s called Show Business, not Show Fun. I’ve seen far worse behavior but you seem to be trying to find a scapegoat for this man’s troubles.
    If one bad (even abusive) rehearsal is all it takes to push someone over the edge, they had far bigger problems than just this. If you can show that this is a pattern of behavior, please do.

    Like

    1. David, just because you’ve seen “far worse behavior” doesn’t excuse the behavior that took place. Maybe you should go to the union reps, management or the media if you’ve seen such behavior rather than spouting off in the comments section of a blog. Be a part of the solution to this problem, which is apparently rampant throughout the professional theater community, rather than sit back and observe.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I didn’t realize that if that’s just the way something is done, it can’t be wrong.

      I am under the impression that wrong is wrong.

      However, under this premise, as a victim of abuse – if someone else has experienced worse (however that’s quantified) my experience no longer ‘counts’ and only the one who experienced worse – and ‘dealt’ with it counts.

      Surely you don’t really mean what you wrote.

      SURELY you meant to say, “Wow. Even if there was underlying depression, Broadway should no longer be a place where we accept this kind of bullying as status quo.”

      Like

  3. Is there a way to find out if producers were involved? Surely there are emails discussing the matter. I hope you’re speaking with a lawyer so you can find out who was involved in this plan.
    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m heartbroken.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This really breaks my heart! Bobbie’s behavior, not to mention the others, was uncalled for and totally unacceptable. If there was a problem with Jeffrey’s performance, It should have been handled professionally. The business is hard enough without the sniping and behind-the-back plotting. I wish Jeffrey had contacted someone after the incident (if he didn’t). My thoughts are with his loved ones…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Many years ago, in upstate New York, I did Chicago with Jeff in a Summer Stock production. He was beyond incredible in this role. Beyond convincing and had a voice that would make Metropolitan Opera divas blush! He was also a lovely and warm person. This is utterly heartbreaking

    Liked by 1 person

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