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Memories of Gary Darling

The Buffalo theater community will memorialize actor Gary Darling on Wednesday, March 18 at 7pm at the New Phoenix Theatre. It seems impossible that he arrived in our community just seven years ago. He became a fixture in no time at all.

I remember my first impressions of Gary as a new face on Buffalo’s stages. He was entirely at ease and convincingly southern. I would later learn that was because he was a seasoned professional and actually from Memphis!

He immediately began interacting with us as if he had known us all our lives. Below, we share the heavily abbreviated memories from a few of Gary’s theater friends. People were unusually effusive in their memories and praise for a loving man who will be dearly missed.

Matthew LaChiusa, founder of American Repertory Theater

What I truly appreciated, and will remember about Gary, was his honesty and…overall, his straightforwardness and dedication toward his craft.

John Fredo, actor

His kindness and love always showed through the wise and knowledgeable eyes of an experienced actor and person. I was always struck by the way he listened, keeping his face relaxed until all the information came his way.

Josephine Hogan, actor

He was a sweet and generous actor who exuded professionalism. I was struck by the ever-present good-natured twinkle in the corner of his eye, even on days when he wasn’t feeling well. We shared the happiest of dressing rooms; the cast and backstage staff even created a Red Pepper Rap (from one of Gary’s lines in the play),which both he and we sang gleefully throughout the run.

Kurt Schneiderman, founder of Subversive Theatre Collective

Gary was an amazing man who seemed to always skirt the edge of disaster. He was only minutes away from arriving at the World Trade Center when it came crashing down; he was in Memphis the day that Martin Luther King was shot. Three or four years ago he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was told he had less than six months to live…and yet he miraculously came back from that to get in several good years.

Richard Lambert, actor, founder of New Phoenix Theatre

Gary Darling lived up to his name in so many ways. He was a darling man. I met Gary when he came to the Phoenix Theatre to play the lead in Inherit the Wind, a production that was co-produced by Kurt Schneiderman’s Subversive Theatre Company. He was dynamic and very nearly off book from the first read. He seemingly lived through his punctuation, excitement, and love of the spoken word. He was, in terns, articulate, goofy, childlike and passionate about nearly everything in his life. He was also one of those actors who you, sometimes, could not tell if he was engaged in a conversation or acting. I was very much in awe of his gift, and throughout the entire rehearsal process, and eventually through every performance that ultimately won him that season’s ‘Outstanding Actor in a Play’ Artie.

Joy Scime, actor

When we were doing The Grapes of Wrath [at Subversive] Gary had said that his relationship to his own mother was similar to that of Tom and Ma Jode. When he died, I couldn’t help but think of the moment when Ma Jode says her final goodbye to her son. Many a night, at the end of that scene, I felt something extraordinarily powerful in that theater. Gary’s artistry helped create an exquisitely beautiful moment, in which both actor and audience were able to experience love and loss together, in community. And really that’s the only way we can bear the bitter sweetness of life together. That is the great gift of theater that Gary understood intuitively.