It is with deep regret that I write about the passing of Rich Abrams. Rich passed away last fall, after battling illness.
Rich was Fannie Lou’s first production manager. He was a friend of Fannie Lou and, through that, a friend of mine. Before he fell ill, Rich oversaw technical aspects of the initial “Scenes and Songs” productions. The first was in Stamford, CT, in October 2011; the second took place in New York City in March 2012.
Rich’s technical expertise added a degree of professionalism that those early productions never would have had without him. And, to be sure, he was excellent at what he did. His credentials were stellar: He served as operations associate at the Yale School of Drama, and also provided stage and production management for performances in the New York and Connecticut areas. He worked in live theater for more than 40 years, including opera, rock concerts, dance recitals and plays. He was an active member of AGMA and the Stage Managers Association.
Yet I, with very limited funds, was fortunate enough to have Rich as the production manager of my fledgling, original work. He worked on a volunteer basis. Because, he said, he believed in Fannie Lou. After reading the script, Rich told me, he knew he wanted to work on the production. And so, he did. It was as simple and uncomplicated as that.
But that was Rich. A simple – in the best sense of the word – and uncomplicated person. With all of his experience and expertise, he could have been quite the snob. But he wasn’t. Rich was the nicest guy you would ever want to encounter. He took time to explain technical intricacies, and delighted in enhancing and being part of theatrical projects. He loved what he did, and it showed. What helped him do his work joyfully was the support of his wife, Arlene, and my condolences go out to her for what must be a devastating loss.
Rich had high hopes for Fannie Lou. He would be so thrilled to know that the show is headed to the Broadway stage. I’m saddened that he won’t be part of it, physically. But I know he’s with us in spirit, cheering us on all the way.
Thank you, Rich, for being part of the Fannie Lou family. While the time I had to know and work with you was all too short, you are greatly missed.