we shared a birthday

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randynmeIn fact, I’m pretty sure this picture by Cynthia Cooper was taken when we were out celebrating several years ago.

We met in college. Both of us ensconced in the theatre department where we did shows together. We even shared the stage at the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington DC for ACTF in a production of “The Taming of the Shrew” – he played “Petruchio” and I “Gremio”.

Over the years we would still be connected via the theatre. Long after college I had the crazy notion of putting on shows in my backyard and calling it WeedWacker Theatre. Early in the planning stages I ran into Randy at Livingstone’s. While drinking and chatting I casually mentioned the insanity I was planning for the Summer. He perked up and said, “Give me a slot… I’ll put something on.”

Well, I did give him a slot. To the delight of the audience that night… Randy, Marie (his then wife) and a couple of other friends put up a cardboard set and performed an episode of “The Honeymooners” with Randy playing the Ralph Kramden part. It was years later that I realized how close he was to that character.

We were even business partners for a time. In the early days of Theatre J’Nerique… Jeff White, Randy and I produced shows under that banner for about a year at The Laundromat… a fringe performance space in the Tower District. Heck, we even made money doing this. OK… to be fair we did lose money on a show to the tune of $3.76… something we laughed about over the years.

There’ll be many stories about Randy. How after college he had gone to LA to try his hand at the biz… or how when he got back he finally got into teaching… and everything in between.  He did have a good many accomplishments and many others will tell of those.

My latest association with Randy was that of slumlord to his tenant. (Something else we joked about.) He lived here the last 4 years of his life… until we had to get him to the hospital 3 months ago.

Like Ralph… Randy was a big lovable lug. At times blustery… funny… infuriating… supportive… he could be an asshole… he could be a gentleman… he could be all that and yet those who really knew him knew that it all hid essentially a sweet and generous interior.

He had more talent than he gave himself credit for. And even though he battled his own demons… even through that… he had the capacity to inspire. This was evident in the passion and “can-do-ness” his students exhibited and I witnessed when shooting many of the school shows he directed over the past few years… yet another legacy.

Randy passed away in hospice care last night. I last saw him a couple of days ago… in our own way we said, “See you around… somewhere, someplace… just not here”. Good night to a fellow actor & director, tenant, partner in crime… and above all… friend.