R.I.P. Randall Wreghitt

I was completely floored yesterday to learn belatedly that Broadway producer Randall Wreghitt had passed away. It was a shock because he was so young (55) and because the cause was so hideous, horrible and freakish, because so mundane. It must serve as a wake-up call. Randall was killed by low level carbon monoxide poisoning from a source in his home over a period of two years. Flu-like symptoms brought him to the doctor this spring. By May 18 he was gone. He had enough time left to him after learning the source of his illness to make awareness of this issue his cause; in his honor, I direct you to this carbon monoxide awareness site, chosen quite at random.

I had the honor of working alongside Randall at the Big Apple Circus in the mid 90s, when he was in the marketing department. I learned a lot just by being around him, by watching the nuts and bolts of what he did. He definitely seemed to have the funnest job in the Circus’s back office. At least he made it look that way. I remember him as somebody who lit up the office. He was extremely energetic, always smiling, always laughing, liked to tease people. He was constantly using that charm on the phone to promote the Circus. And the times he wasn’t there, when the light was off in his office, the place seemed palpably quieter — grim by comparison. A couple of years in a row he had a bunch of us over to Christmas parties at the house in New Jersey he still shared with his mother. He was surprisingly down to earth for someone so theatrical.

He became a producer around that same time, and with immediate success, co-producing Three Tall Women, the revival of The Boys in the Band, As Bees in Honey Drown, and on and on like that over the past decade and a half.The last time I talked to him was at Stewart Lane & Bonnie Comley’s Christmas party in 2007, when he was flush with success in the wake of Grey Gardens. “What are you doing here?” he asked, bug-eyed, for the last time he’d seen me I was a pony-tailed development factotum and not the marginally more successful confidence man I’ve become.

The list of Randall’s productions (see IBDB here) reveals him to have been a man of taste, vision and integrity, devoted to serious theatre, precisely the kind of commercial producer we’re always claiming no longer exists — and therefore the kind we can’t afford to lose. It’s a damn shame.

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