Magi Loucks

For Winnie

Winnifred Ringhoffer  –

"A Little Night Music"
Winnie as Madame Armfeldt in “A Little Night Music”

I just learned that my college (and very first) voice teacher, Winnie, died in late December of last year.

She seemed a bit of a character to a young college kid, with her enormous voice and shattering vibrato that could shake your rib cage from across the room, her “oh, what a wonderful day!” sighs, her “Twenty-four Italian Songs and Arias” and “The Prima Donnas Album” repertoire choices. But she knew her stuff, and had the chops to prove it.

Me as Anne in “A Little Night Music”

I was a terrible student. I refused to do the required solo concerts (crippling stage fright), rarely practiced the assignments, and barely learned the arias (that’s another story). But my senior year, when I simply didn’t have the time, nor the energy, to sing soprano in chorale (which meant free voice lessons) and would have had to quit because I couldn’t afford lessons on my own, she waived the fee for the entire year. 

And despite it all, for four years, she kept showing up, kept pouring her time and skill and attention onto me, kept encouraging the slightest improvement, even when I couldn’t do much but review what we’d done the last lesson.

I was blessed to be able to share the stage with her in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. I still have notes and exercise sheets from some of our lessons.

In 2015 she received the Sally Rodgers Award for Lifelong Achievement. I can only underestimate the influence she has had on me, and countless others during her tenure.

For Jack

jack freimann

Jack Freimann (John Freimann) – my teacher, my mentor, my friend – wrapped his whirlwind tour of this life last afternoon.

Jack and I didn’t have the sort of relationship where we talked about “feelings”- we always talked about The Work.  He took me seriously as an artist in a way that no one in my life ever had before, expected my complete authenticity and full presence in return, and would tolerate no bullshit, no matter what was going on with me at the time with my health, or anything else.

Joan La Pucelle, RSC's vs of The Plantagents in college onstage
Joan La Pucelle, RSC’s vs of The Plantagents

His belief and faith in me was a first, his support was real, unwavering and endless, and his high expectations were my benchmarks: he was the one I wanted to do my best for, he was the one I wanted to be proud of me.  He still is.  He had me mining for every ounce of life from depths I didn’t know I had, didn’t think I had, for every scene, every role, every production – I was terrified to let him down.

theatre lobby photo board for RSC's Shakespeare's the Plantagenets
Me as Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc)

The pics are from Henry VI, The Plantagenets.  Joan la Pucelle (of Arc), a part I wanted desperately, terrified me on so many levels – with its acting challenges (monologues and fiery death scene), and physical requirements (fencing and broad sword fights) – at a time when I couldn’t hold a pen in my hand or move an inch without pain.  I auditioned, and Jack cast me, and never once asked me if I could do it, let on if he had any doubts that I could, or let me think I couldn’t. We just did it.

He is an indelible part of who I am as an actor, a singer, an artist, and a person. I am shattered, but I count myself extremely blessed to be part of the HJT that Jack Built.

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