Monday, November 13, 2006

Rest In Peace

When I woke up this afternoon, I was planning on writing a post with some theater news. Then I heard the news of Bob Fennell's passing and I decided this space would be better spent in tribute to him.

Those of you not in the industry, might not have known Bob personally or even of him. In 1996, after working at Boneau/Bryan-Brown, he co-founded the press agency The Publicity Office with Marc Thibodeau. He remained co-head of the office until his death. Shows he worked on there included Wicked, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Three Days of Rain, The Good Body, Man of La Mancha, Follies, Imaginary Friends, The Blonde in the Thunderbird, Jane Eyre, Swan Lake and more. (Also of note--at BBB his shows included Moon Over Buffalo and therefore he has a brief cameo in the Moon Over Broadway documentary.)

As a journalist, I work with tons of press agents, many of whom yearn to escape the industry. Bob was not like that--he genuinely loved the theater and was completely dedicated to his job. Often he worked at nights, on weekends and holidays. He never forgot anything and could offer stories on any show he ever worked on. He was also fiercely protective of his clients--he once spent 45 minutes trying to convince me I should not write that The Good Body was closing early in deference to Eve Ensler's feelings. While he had a temper, he never resorted to below-the-belt shots, even if someone deserved them. And, though he had a reserved look about him, he could be very exuberant.

He was so proud of Wicked, considering it his biggest accomplishment in this industry. About a month ago, after he had already been diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, I got him on the phone at his office and he went on an on about how much he loved the current cast. Even in the face of illness, he was still confidently doing his job.

I could tell many stories involving him, but he was a private man and I don't think he'd want that. So I'll just leave it at the above. For those of you who knew him, a wake will be held Wednesday, November 15 and Thursday, November 16, 2-4 PM and 7-9 PM at The Whalen & Ball Funeral Home in Yonkers. A funeral service will be held on Friday, November 17 at 10:30 AM at The Monastery Church of the Sacred Heart, 110 Shonnard Place, Yonkers. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Robert A. Fennell Scholarship Fund at Brooklyn College (http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/).

1 comment:

Robert Stanton said...

I went to school with Bob. He was one of the first people I met in the city, and one of the finest.

He was a great guy--very warm and very witty--and he had a great impact on me.

I can't believe he's gone.