With great sadness, we’ll be mourning the passing of our dear friend Ron Sanborn on Monday.
There are people you assume will always be there, people who are so fundamentally positive that losing them doesn’t make any sense in the world, so therefore it can’t actually ever happen. Ron was one of those people.
Ron acted with us and championed us since 2003, when Kate Ross directed him as Falstaff in Henry 4 Part One opposite Zack Calhoon as Hal, Travis Horseman as Hotspur, Linda S. Nelson as Mistress Quickly, Philip Emeott as the Douglass and so many others.
The following year, Ron played Bottom in Philip’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a production (and a season) that fulfilled all the things we wanted to be as a company. To call him tremendous would be an understatement, and i think of how his performance now grows like a tall tale, everyone adding their piece to the memory of it. He was performing on a rock in Central Park, in the open air–but if anyone can be said to fill that space, it was Ron.
He was offered the role of Prospero in The Tempest, well before we had auditions. He turned it down, said it was too thankless…Vinnie Penna and Christian Toth (playing the clowns) would get all the laughs, and he knew in reality it wasn’t the right fit for him. He was completely right, but I’ll always be a little sad we didn’t talk him into it. I would have loved to see him take it on, be brave and funny and a big bear of a Prospero. Instead, he came and cheered us on and raised a toast to us with his usual vodka in a wine glass. He was that kind of guy.
When we finally got him back onstage in the park in 2013, he played Hastings in Richard III in our 15 anniversary season. Philip was directing again, along with playing Richard. I think the lure of the park called him again, and with Philip and Sara Thigpen and Linda, there was no way he could say no. Plus I think he loved that his character died in act three, giving him 35 mins to lay in the grass or flirt with the interns before curtain call. One of my favorite moments in that show is right at the top, during the “dumb show” which shows a vicious murder that sets up the first scene. I hadn’t seen rehearsals for it much during the week, but in final dress I heard this pounding drum beat behind the action, setting the tone for the scene. When I looked up, there was Ron with a tom tom beating on this big kettle drum, having the time of his life.
A life that was so very full and all too short. We will miss his crazy laugh, his generosity of spirit, and his smile. He was around in so many other ways too–in readings and birthday parties and our recent anniversary party at the Astoria Beer Garden, where he took Shannon Thomason out on the dance floor and twirled her much more than she bargained for.
And that was just who he was to us. He was so much to so many people…work friends and church friends and neighborhood friends. So our thoughts are with all of his family and friends. He’s a guy that you don’t lose easily, espeically if you thought you never would. He was one of a kind. Our Ron.