The response to the Justice for Jeff blog has been tremendous, even overwhelming. The stories that people have shared have been disheartening to say the least.
And you should hear the stories that the blog has NOT posted. For whatever reasons – fear of backlash, losing one’s job, being blackballed by producers, or, as is the case with several individuals, working with the official investigations – many of those tortured individuals who’ve reached out to Justice for Jeff have opted not to tell their stories on this particular forum.
However, another person has agreed to let Justice for Jeff tell their story here and it’s another never ending tale of abuse. Once again, this is a stage manager speaking out who feels that since they are no longer in the business that they “have nothing to lose.”
“My theater career is over. I was harassed, bullied, and intimidated into quitting my job as the first assistant stage manager of the most popular Broadway show on tour in 2011,” they told Justice for Jeff. “That was the worst, but certainly not the first instance of exactly the kind of treatment that could have driven Jeff to the same ‘permanent solution to a temporary situation’ despair.”
According to the source, what happened to Loeffelholz is not at all unusual and they have been a witness to similar treatment. “This is endemic in theater,” they said. “Exactly what happened to Jeff happened to a standby/understudy on a tour I was on. He aged out covering the students. He was an understudy for two principle roles.”
“I was harassed, bullied, and intimidated into quitting my job as the first assistant stage manager of the most popular Broadway show on tour…”
The actor was offered a similar deal to what Loeffelholz was offered had he left Chicago to work on Kander and Ebb’s The Visit, where there had been a part tailored to Loeffelholz’s unique talents. Like Loeffelholz, this actor could take over the role on a Principal contract for six months. This actor would have received a bump in pay and a leading role credit, the source said. “But those contracts are not Run of Play. After six months he’d be out of a job. He chose to stay in his Standby/Understudy Run of Play contract. Job security.”
The source also expressed dismay at the number of others – actors, musicians, backstage crew – who were present at Loeffelholz’s arduous rehearsal yet remained silent. “I have done all of those jobs,” they said. “I said something. I was punished and made unhirable. That is what would happen to them too. I haven’t worked in theater since 2011.”
“The Family that Never Really Was”
When the source read Michael Paulson’s article in The New York Times, they said they “instinctively laughed and/or threw up a little when I read that the stage manager’s report didn’t say much about that day of Jeff’s rehearsal.”
“I spent a lot of my career writing rehearsal and performance reports that say nothing,” they continued. “It’s an art. Those reports are sent to everyone: Producers, investors, the assistant dance captain, the head of props, the dog trainer if you’re doing Annie. We say as little as possible.”
The Times article also stated that Loeffelholz had complained to Actor’s Equity about the rehearsal to which the source rhetorically asked, “What happened? I did too. I got no support.”
“I spent a lot of my career writing rehearsal and performance reports that say nothing. It’s an art.”
“The pain that Jeff must have felt [to take his own life] instead of quitting an abusive relationship with his supposed family,” they said, adding “the family that never really was.”
The source continued: “We are employees. Not a family. People are afraid of losing their jobs. These jobs are not easy to get. We’re spending nearly every holiday together; not with our actual families. We don’t have weekends outside of work. We’re scrambling for child care. Time with our loved ones. It’s theater. Suck it up, kids.”
But the people who hire actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and stage managers? “They don’t have those issues,” the source said. “And they know that we are replaceable. Just like Jeff will be. Or me. I just happen to be alive.”