A man named Curtis Jerome has died. He was a director, set-builder, costumer, actor, dancer, singer, and all-around performer. He was a tent pole at The Maverick Theater in Fullerton, CA. He was in a terrible car accident and did not survive. His death was as shocking to our little theater community as it was tragic. He was a man who meant a lot to a lot of people and I am sad that he is gone.
I really didn’t know Curtis, other than how he and I were often confused in conversation for sharing the same first name. He did most of the musicals at the theater and I did only plays, usually, if I wasn’t doing Shmimprov. I’m sure that he and I were in the same room more than once, but we never quite got introduced. While our paths never crossed, his reputation preceded him. Many people credit him with giving them their first chance at something, whether a role or a new skill, and for being very supportive in his direction. He was known as a work horse who got things done. He was good people.
Theater, when it comes down to it, is a community more than anything. It’s made up of people who come together for the shared goal of telling a story, live, in front of a group of strangers. It doesn’t require a special location or crazy technology – as long as you have free space and people who will watch you can put on a show. It’s the quality of the people who come together to tell that story – the community – that dictates how well things work. When that community grows it depends on each person to help it run. And when you lose a part of that community the ripples of that loss are felt throughout.
I didn’t know Curtis, but I miss Curtis.
I feel for everyone who had the benefit of knowing him personally, but I’m also grateful for all of the lives that he touched and people that he helped to mentor while he could.
Thank you, Curtis. You will be missed.