Sunday night I was lucky enough to take part in a celebration of Kate Singleton’s life at the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden. This really was a celebration, and it was marked by some real eloquence from a bunch of Orlando-area theater people.
Peg O’Keef couldn’t be there (she’s opening Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Mad Cow on Friday), but she sent along these lovely remarks:
Kate used to be “Kathy”… back in the days I was “Peggy”… And we were both very fresh freshmen at Rollins when we met. I say “both of us”… but Kathy was by far the fresher … at least in the sassy sense.
Even then — at a mere 17 or 18 — she commanded attention. I’ve always said Kate could change the atmosphere of a room just by walking into it. When Kathy crossed the portal, you knew you were going to have to access your A-game … That is, if you dared to step into her circle.
Most often, I just skirted the sideline … and looked in with admiration as she ushered in a wit that was as courageous as it was quick.
She could render a whole green room of so-called smart people helpless with laughter from a casually dropped bon mot.
Or she might slip into a spontaneous story, complete with multiple voices and postures (her more ambitious ones included songs and dance) … At the end of one of these remarkable arias, you might really believe you were entertained by a whole troupe of players rather than by one solitary, albeit wildly colorful, soul.
As is the case with smart and capable social-observers and actors — of which Kate was a spectacular example — she could work on many levels, employing tools with finesse.
She could offer a volume of comment by simply raising an eyebrow. She could kill with a sideways glance. She could throw a desperately needed lifesaver by simply pursing her lips or offering a comforting half-smile from across the room.
She wasn’t always “nice and ladylike”… and she was rarely “appropriate” … But she contained a courage that inspired awe.
And a brain so big I wonder how she held it up.
And, as some of us know, in the shadow of that quick mind, only barely hidden lay a heart so huge and soft that it defied containment.
So from all those years ago, shy and awe-struck “Peggy” offers sassy “Kathy” heartfelt thanks for throwing that lifesaver …
And “Peg” wishes “Kate” godspeed.