Robby may-place made a huge impression on audiences from the moment he arrived on stage during his Sarasota stage debut as Jud Fry in an Oklahoma production! at the Players Center for Performing Arts in 2010.
One of the pleasures of community theater shows is the occasional surprise when a newcomer to town or on stage makes you sit down and take note, I wrote in a review under the headline Players Find a New Star.
Robert David May (as he was then billed) does exactly that as Jud Fry, he has a deep, booming voice perfectly suited to his solid build, which helps him make Jud the physically and emotionally intimidating man. it’s supposed to be in Oklahoma territory. .
He was a physically imposing man who made him look perfect for some of the darker characters he has played over the years. But to anyone who knew him, even a little bit, it was obvious that he was actually just a big teddy bear, a warm and caring human being who commanded attention on stage with his presence and voice. robust.
May-Place died Thursday at age 41 of complications from liver disease at a hospital in Springfield, Missouri, where he had undergone several treatments and then contracted COVID-19, according to his family.
He played in Sarasota for only five or six years before moving to New York City to pursue his acting career.
Her mother, Teresa McCoy, said Robby had met her future husband in some sort of fluke when dancer Michael Place responded to an ad online for a roommate.
They met, and from that night on, that’s it, she said in a phone interview, interrupted by a flower delivery.
From 2010 to 2015, May performed in roles in numerous theaters in the Sarasota area. He followed Jud Fry with roles such as Bill Sikes in Oliver at the Golden Apple Dinner Theater and the comedic and antique Max Bialystock in The Producers at the Players Center.
My former colleague Carrie Seidman was also won over by her performance in Oliver.
Robby May (whom I saw and loved in the Oklahoma! At The Players last year), a giant man in both size and ability, understood the brutality of this part, she wrote. But where he really shone was in his dual role as Mr. Bumble, the stupid, foolish and lewd boss overseeing the orphanage and literally spitting his words.
There were also non-musical roles, such as his moving performance as Robert, mentally handicapped, in TheBanyan Theater Companys Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun, in which Herald-Tribune reviewer Susan L. Rife wrote that ‘ he was so engaging like a kid trapped in an adult body that is practically irresistible.
Among his last local roles, there was in 2015 that of Robert Hooke, a rival of a young Isaac Newton in Isaacs Eye, one of the first productions of Urbanite Theaters.
Sarasota just kissed him. It was amazing, said McCoy, adding that her son started acting in her hometown of Stockton, Calif., And that she is still in touch with her high school drama teacher and fellow actors.
After leaving New York City, he and Michael moved to Kansas City and then Springfield, where they continued to perform in community theater. He loved being on stage, McCoy said.
His passing at such a young age came as a shock to many who knew him in the local theater community. The Facebook posts were filled with emotional tributes.
My God, he was a talented and wonderful man, wrote actor and director Dan Higgs. I enjoyed working with him so much and having the chance to call him friend.
Kathryn Parks, who played Maria in a Manatee Players production of The Sound of Music that May-Place directed, described her as a talented and wonderful person.
Best of all was the joy that was evident in every performance. You knew he was where he should be. Even when he played mean and obnoxious, or malicious and vengeful characters, you could see how much he enjoyed every moment, which is why these performances remain so memorable today.
Jay Handelman is the editor and theater critic of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Read more of his art and entertainment stories. And please support local journalism by subscribing to the Herald-Tribune.
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