Local actor, director revered, remembered by many

Actor/director Jim Lockwood died Monday, Aug. 30 at age 81. CONTRIBUTED
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Actor/director Jim Lockwood died Monday, Aug. 30 at age 81. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Theater community reflects on legacy of actor/director Jim Lockwood

Actor/director Jim Lockwood, a kind, friendly arts devotee respected and revered within local theater for decades, died Monday, Aug. 30 at age 81.

In addition to being a lifetime member of the Dayton Playhouse and champion of the organization’s annual FutureFest of new plays, Lockwood was a 2008 inductee into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame. His affiliation with numerous troupes across the Miami Valley included Actor’s Theatre of Fairborn, Beavercreek Community Theatre, Brookville Community Theatre, Dayton Theatre Guild and Troy Civic Theatre among others.

A particular fan of musicals, Lockwood was especially proud to have directed productions of Stephen Sondheim’s darkly compelling “Assassins,” one of his favorite shows, and playful farce “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Regarding his 2013 Playhouse production of “Forum,” he noted at the time his admiration for the legendary composer while also sharing his perspectives on the craft of directing.

The Dayton Playhouse's 2013 production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" directed by Jim Lockwood. CONTRIBUTED
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The Dayton Playhouse's 2013 production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" directed by Jim Lockwood. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: ART FABIAN

Credit: ART FABIAN

“I’m a big Sondheim fan,” Lockwood said. “I think it’s the illusion of being conversational that draws me to his lyrics. I say illusion because Sondheim’s lyrics are anything but ordinary… When directing comedy, it’s important to choose the right co-conspirators. A feel for comedy is not easily taught or directed. Like all theater, comedy demands honesty. If audiences are going to care, they need to feel a connection to the characters no matter how broadly they are portrayed.”

“Jim was a theater enthusiast,” said Fran Pesch, Playhouse FutureFest program director who appeared opposite Lockwood in the 2018 production of “Late in the Game.” “(He) was thoroughly invested in FutureFest. Those very few years when Jim wasn’t actively involved with a FutureFest show, he would be a weekend passholder. FutureFest ‘regulars’ are a special group, a family of sorts. It was always nice to spend the weekend with them at our annual ‘reunion,’ catching up and watching and talking about theater. Jim may have enjoyed this socialization aspect of FutureFest as much as the productions… From (the) first FutureFest in 1991 and over the next 28 years, (my daughter) Annie and I had the opportunity to work with Jim in his capacity as either director or castmate in 12 shows. Our memories of Jim echo all those that have been shared. He was amiable, sociable, a talented actor and director. I will always be grateful to Jim for casting me as Emma Goldman in ‘Assassins’ at the Dayton Theatre Guild. Non-traditional casting was a rarity in Dayton in 1995.”

Jim Lockwood and the cast of the Dayton Playhouse's 2018 FutureFest production of "Late in the Game." CONTRIBUTED
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Jim Lockwood and the cast of the Dayton Playhouse's 2018 FutureFest production of "Late in the Game." CONTRIBUTED

Credit: ART FABIAN

Credit: ART FABIAN

“Beavercreek Community Theatre is deeply saddened by the loss of Jim Lockwood,” echoed Doug Lloyd, BCT president. “He worked with us both on stage and in the director’s chair. He was extremely proud of, as were we, his direction of our production of ‘Assassins.’ Sondheim and Jim at their best. If he wasn’t involved in a performance, he was there supporting it in the audience. He was always there with a smile, a hug and a pun. A bright light has gone out in the Dayton theater community and we will miss Jim immensely.”

Born in Detroit, Lockwood attended Wayne State University and played French horn in the U.S. Air Force Band. He worked as a computer programming analyst for Ledex, Elder Beerman’s, Cap Gemini and Sogeti. He is survived by daughter Jennifer, son Jake (Heather), grandchildren Jack and Rosemary, brother Thomas (Annie) Lockwood, girlfriend Jane McBride and former wife Dodie Lockwood. Jennifer and Dodie are members of the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame. Jake has served as an adjunct theater instructor at Wright State University and worked with the Human Race Theatre Company and Vandalia Youth Theatre.

A celebration of life was held Saturday, Sept. 4 at the Playhouse. The family asks the community to consider making a donation to a local theater company in Lockwood’s honor.

“Jim was such a wonderful fixture at the Dayton Playhouse,” said Tina McPhearson, Playhouse vice-chairperson. “He and his family have made so many contributions to the theatre over the years. As an actor and director, he was giving and smart. We all will miss his gentleness and his great hugs.”

Jim Lockwood and the cast of Dayton Playhouse's 2014 production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Jim Lockwood and the cast of Dayton Playhouse's 2014 production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." CONTRIBUTED

Credit: ART FABIAN

Credit: ART FABIAN