Today we dashed out after church to make a trip to Austin where a former student was starring in a play. We’d packed a lunch that we ate on the way. We arrived early as the roads were clear and the temperature was almost balmy.

James was onstage through the entire production. As narrator he engaged the audience from the outset, took us by the hand, and led us into the world of an eccentric, quirky man who loved musicals. He was billed “the man in the chair” and we learned about him, his life, a failed marriage, and his parents, through his escapes into musicals, especially “The Drowsy Chaperone.” We saw the show in bits and pieces as he saw it each time he played the recorded music. It was the classic play within a play. Unlike the motives of Hamlet who was trying to trap a murderer, the man in the chair wanted to share something that was important to him as he experienced it again with us.

Once James had decided who the man in the chair was, he created a wonderful persona, believable and endearing, very likable and sad. His comments and observations to the audience helped a formulaic play, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” make sense of his life. Musicals with their gaiety and happy endings after predictable complications and misunderstandings were resolved, had kept him going.

I was aware of his love of theater when he was in high school. James became involved in all aspects of play production and often made things come together by taking on thankless chores to help achieve successful performances. Bringing a play or a musical to performance in a high school where actors were also athletes, musicians, and kids busy in their churches and the community, was not easy. James loved it all. His acting potential was present in his early teens. Today I saw a seasoned professional.

I am so proud to call him friend. Thank you for today, James.