UPDATE: I’m including information passed along by Heather Randall about services: “A celebration of life will be held at Whitehurst Sullivan Burns & Blair Funeral home at 1525 E. Saginaw in Fresno this Saturday, Oct. 1st, at 11 a.m. If you have any photos you’d like to share there will be corkboards available to put pictures on.”
You can find Mr. Stump’s online guestbook here.
ORIGINAL POST: Sad news for the Fresno-area theater community: Randy Stump, who in the 1980s and ‘90s helped to found Actors Repertory Theatre, Livestock Theatre and Theatre J’Nerique, died on Friday, Sept. 23. He was 59.
The cause was prostate cancer, says his friend Marcel Nunis, who frequently collaborated with Mr. Stump.
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College theater credits include College of the Sequoias, Fresno City College and Fresno State, where he met Nunis. He was also involved with Fresno Community Theater, Fresno Playhouse, Good Company Players and CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre.
“Pretty much if there was a stage and opportunity, Randy was there,” Nunis says.
I asked Nunis a few questions to give people a feel for Mr. Stump’s life and career.
Q: Is there a particular role or show for which he’s known?
A: His adaptation of “Lysistrata,” which he staged on numerous occasions. For a role, I think Petruchio in “Taming Of The Shrew” that we performed at the Kennedy Center as part of the American College Theatre Festival from Fresno State.
Q: What do you think his favorite role was?
A: If it was big, broad, blustery and funny, Randy gravitated to it. Though he would and did give fine performances in more subtle and serious roles as well. He had more talent and skill than he gave himself credit for.
Q: For those who didn’t know him, tell us a little about Randy: his personality, quirks, strengths, etc.
A: There were times he was bigger than life. More often than not he wore his emotions on his sleeves.
Among his regular theatre crowd he was known as a “bit meister”. When directing he would stop and often say, “Hey, I got this bit.” He was a student of comedy – everything from vaudeville to “Monty Python.”
He really enjoyed performing. His timing was impeccable.
He loved anything about World War II ... movies, documentaries ... pretty much anything about that era.
He loved conversation on about any topic.
As a person he was a mass of contradictions... but aren’t we all. An example: He took long walks everyday for exercise ... and smoked the entire time.
When you got past the surface you found a sweet generous soul and a good friend.
Q: Tell us a little about his qualities as a teacher.
A: From what I observed ... especially from the school shows he directed, he really inspired passion and a “can-do-ness” that showed on stage. I once told him that it always moved me the level of “buy in” and “giving it your all” his students exhibited. And really what held it all together was a sense of joy. Chris Colfer was one of his students.
Q: You shared a birthday. Tell us about your time as business partners.
A: Yes, we did... though our personalities were night and day ... so much for astrology, eh?
It was when the Laundromat Performance Space next to Vini Vidi Vici first opened up. Randy, Jeff White and I decided to throw our hats into the producing ring with Theatre J’Nerique. Our first show ... you guessed it, “Lysistrata.” All in all we produced four shows there together. After about a year Randy and Jeff decided to pursue other things and I continued with TJ.
Q: Your favorite Randy story?
A: Post first performance of “Shrew” at the Kennedy Center and the cast was going to Georgetown for drinks. I had made arrangements with my neighbor (from Malaysia who worked in the embassy in DC) to have dinner... then maybe join the rest in Georgetown.
We are all standing in the street ... the cast waiting for cabs. A limo pulls up, driver opens the door and I get in. The limo drives off with me in it. Dinner and chat took longer than expected and I didn’t make it to Georgetown.
At 3 in the morning there is loud knocking on my hotel door. Bleary eyed, I open it and Randy is standing there and says,
“Good, you’re alive!”
“When you got into that limo I thought the mob had got you. You didn’t even meet us at the bar!”
I began laughing.
“Hey, this is not funny! We have two performances tomorrow and who is going to play Gremio if you were dead?”
This both illuminates his sometimes hyper imagination as well as Randy’s commitment to the show must go on.
Q: Can you tell me about survivors?
A: He has two sons, Nathan and Mason.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say?
A: Randy was a good guy with talent. He also took pride sharing a first name with John Wayne... he was born Marion Randall Stump. He will be missed by many.