Grieving over the loss of Sheldon Patinkin, personally it’s natural for me to join along with the local Chicago Theatre community. Our feelings about the late Sheldon Patinkin, a giant of Chicago comedy and theater.
My experience with the iconic director,was the early fall of 1978 when during registration at Columbia College. Morphing from table to table and feeling insecure about even being there. At the Theatre sign up table a older happy robust smiling Sheldon Patinkin reach out his hand to me and said, “Welcome to my theatre sign up table, this is your lucky day, looking me up and down while pointing at my name tag. He said,”I’ve got a good feeling about you….Dan, so whatya say you signed up for our 101 scene study class!
And with that, ole Shel, made me his personal mentor. And thats saying something, at 19, I never had a conversation or pretended to be anybody but myself, and thats saying something.
Sheldon style was pretty unorthodox, but he’d always would say, ” Don’t do as I do…do as I say! He was strict and demanding of anyone who entered his 11th St. Theatre stage. he didn’t care if you had a full day of classes, for a Sheldon show, rehersals went from 6pm. to infinity. A sleeping bag was an actors best friend, especially during tech week.
My first show with Sheldon was “Slugger” a baseball theme ditty. Isabella Hoffman was part of the actors pack who later went on to L.A and became a A Lister with her television work.
The photos in his office made it apparent that Sheldon Patinkin, was the go to guy who spear headed 70’s SNL legends like the John & Jim Belushi,Dan Akroyd. 60’s comics like Nichols and May and Icons like TV’s Ed Asner and Valerie Harper. Actors who became rich and famous for their work in film and television. Including Sheldons own cousin, Mandy Patinkin.
Sheldon Patinkin on the other hand perfered living in Chicago, dedicating much of his life to the training and teaching of future artists. Sheldon developed many innovattions that shaped Second City and sketch comedy in Chicago.
All thanks solely to Director Patinkin who had lived as close to ground zero inside the bowles of the Chicago comedy theater community as it was possibly feaseable that anybody could be. Sheldon always had an opinion while always having time for his theatre people. Why it was simple, Sheldon had lots of heart, he was a gentle warm-hearted man and was never cold or competitive .
Most recently Sheldon was an ensemble member at the Gift Theatre in Chicago. According to Gift Theatre artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton,who commented after hearing about Sheldon’s passing, he was struggling to go on with a performance show Sunday afternoon but was doing so because he knew that his mentor would have had it no other way.
Sheldon’s writing credits included “Second City: Backstage at the World’s Greatest Comedy Theater” from 2000. And a 2008 history of the American musical, wittily titled “No Legs, No Jokes, No Chance.”
Patinkin was in no way retired. At the time of his death, he was in the middle of directing rehearsals for the musical “Into the Woods” at Columbia College Chicago.
Sheldon’s survived by his brother, Norm Patinkin, Funeral services are set for Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Sholom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights.
Sheldon taught his actors how to be an ensemble and how to take care of each other. Why…because thats who Sheldon was, he belonged to everybody….including now with God…Sheldon…R*I*P!