From reports in other media, it seems that the producers of the Broadway revival of Chicago were completely unaware of the behavior by director Walter Bobbie and musical director Leslie Stifelman during the June 22 rehearsal that might have contributed to Jeff Loeffelholz, one of the longest running standbys in Broadway history, taking his own life shortly thereafter.
If the producers (Fran & Barry Weissler/NAMCO) are sincere in honoring Loeffelholz’s memory, why not a scholarship in his name for an aspiring college theater major in the amount of what it would have cost for the production to have simply bought out his run-of-play contract (that Bobbie apparently had an issue with, according to Loeffelholz’s notes from that rehearsal) – $30,000.
Obviously such a scholarship would be presented annually.
What a grand and important gesture it would be for the producers of Chicago to honor Loeffelholz’s memory in such a way. And such a scholarship would clearly prove that the producers are 100% against this type of behavior in the world of theater. It could also pave the way for another small-town theater kid to realize his or her own dreams on the Great White Way … free of bullying and intimidation, of course.
Also, it would be great to see a plaque, bust, or some other type of memorial permanently installed at the Ambassador Theater in honor of Loeffelholz. Seriously, being one of the longest serving standbys in Broadway history is a monumental achievement. And it deserves equally monumental recognition.
This would also honor Loeffelholz’s commitment to Chicago as well as his historic status as a longtime standby.
This scholarship and permanent memorial at the Ambassador would go a long way in bringing about the healing process which has deeply affected the theater community, both in New York City and around the world.
If anyone else has any suggestions on how to honor Loeffelholz’s memory and dedication to his craft, please feel free to share in the comments section.