Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sing out, Patrick Lee (1963-2010)

Last night, my friend Byrne and I went to Park Ridge, New Jersey to attend the wake of our friend Patrick Lee.  Neither of us knew him that well, but he was a person who we both loved seeing in and about theatres.

Patrick passed away suddenly last week at the age of 47 (previously reported as age 51) leaving a huge void in his circle of friends, acquaintances, colleagues and the New York theatre community.

I served with Patrick on the Board of Directors of the Independent Theater Bloggers Association (ITBA), but I knew him before that when group of theater bloggers first met for brunch a couple of years ago, and before that I was a regular reader of his writing.

Patrick wrote Just Shows To Go You, and also regularly contributed stories to TheaterMania, TDF and Show Showdown.  His passion for theatre was as great as any I have known.  He saw well over 200 shows a year, from off off Broadway to Broadway.  He didn't discriminate when it came to production value - he was just happy to see a show and be in a theatre.

I sat next to him at a Fringe show last year and I felt very privileged to do so.  I would sneak a peek at his face, wondering if his reactions were the same as mine.   He was thoughtful and considerate  and he definitely wore a poker face.   When I would run into him, he'd tell me what he had just seen and he was often running off in a hurry to make the next curtain. 

His love for performers was evident in his service as Awards Director of the ITBA.  He loved recognizing work in which he felt was deserving of recognition.

At the wake, Byrne and I spoke with his mother, Mrs. Catherine Lee, and his sister, Grace Ann Lee Arnold, as well as his dear friend Jennifer.    They were all so grateful to learn of the outpouring of love for Patrick from colleagues and friends in the theatre community.   His mother told us that she had feared that he was isolated in New York and was very pleased to learn that the opposite was true.    She also shared with us a story from when he was about 3 years old.  One evening, about 3 in the morning, she heard him awake in his room playing his little Victrola and riding his rocking horse.  She said she knew then that he loved music. 

Besides a display of snapshots and portraits of Patrick over the years, the family had also taken the time to print out many of the blogs and newstories about Patrick from the last few days and bind them into a book.  Byrne and I took the time to flip through that book.  We agreed with all of the tributes and it struck me that what a terrible loss this is. Our friend and colleague is gone and there will be none like him.   However, his legacy will be that he inspired many of us to follow our passion as fully as he always did. 

Patrick was a quiet, sweet soul.    He spoke so lowly, almost whispering, that I sometimes I had a difficult time hearing him whether it was in a meeting or on the street.  I would tell him, "Patrick, you're going to have to 'Sing out, Louise'" and he would just grin at me...and continue to speak softly.

Patrick, wherever you are now, I hope you're "Singing out, Louise" to your favorite showtune.


Esther said...

I'm so glad you and Byrne were able to attend the wake. I've been a part of a few "communities" in my life but the friends I've made as a theatergoer have been among the kindest and most generous and supportive.

Elizabeth said...

I'm sorry to read about your friend Patrick, Sarah. What a nice and heartfelt story.