To Brad: So lovable, stubborn, kind-hearted, silly, talented, intelligent, strong-headed, genuine all at the same time. I don’t think he knew how large of a presence he had or how strong of an impact he had on those in his life.
I first became friendly with Brad during freshman year of high school. I remember sitting in the back row of Biology class, staring at the back of his shaggy hair, and his usual, blue zip up jacket. Every morning I watched him pull out Cheez-its and Oreos from his back pack to snack on at 8:00 AM, and each time I would laugh and ask myself how someone could crave those snacks that early in the morning.
Later that year, we participated in New Jew’s musical theatre program for the first time. During the rehearsals leading up to our performance of Oklahoma, we were threatened with being charged large amounts of money if we touched anything on the prop table or ate in our costumes. But Brad would intentionally play with the toy guns and never take off his costume to eat his snacks or dinners. He was even given a list of all of money that he owed our stage manager for doing so. But he made us laugh every time he did it, and it was even more funny when we thought they were going to actually make him pay.
During junior year, I was given a solo in one of our numbers during Rent. I always got nervous and it took weeks for me to be able to sing it, even though it was only one line. I remember the day that our cast was huddled around the piano to rehearse the song called “Will I,” and it was the first time that I was able to sing my part loudly, and with confidence. He came out from the circle our cast had formed and gave me the biggest hug, disregarding the fact that I was still singing and that we had to keep going through the rest of the song. But Brad was beyond supportive in that way and it’s something I’ve remembered so clearly since.
The moment that Brad was given a role for a show, he would delve deep into his character through research of the time-period, qualities of their persona and any discovery work that allowed him to connect himself with who the character is. Each show, without a doubt, he eventually transformed himself into his character; he became one with them.
And beyond that, one of my favorite things about Brad is how he would purchase a significant prop for each production to best embody his character.
For Seymour, from Little Shop of Horrors, it was a classic Yankee baseball cap.
For Mark, from Rent, it was his irreplaceable camera.
For Cliff, from Cabaret, it was a typewriter.
Brad was so incredibly wise and brilliant, beyond the subjects we were learning in school. He was constantly indulging in research and learning about the world around him. Anything that captivated him, challenged him, or made him ask questions. I remember sitting down with him at times during Senior Year and listening to some of the research he was doing on his own. All I remember thinking to myself was wow, I don’t know if I’m comprehending half of the things he is telling me but damn he is passionate about it.
This research even transferred through some of his clothing. If he was ever wearing a shirt with a unique pattern, design, or image, and if you asked him what it meant, he would have an entire story behind the artist or just an overall meaning of the image. I’ve never heard of someone doing such research behind their own articles of clothing but it amazed me whenever he told me a story behind his shirt.
During Junior year, Brad asked me to prom in the most Brad way possible. We were at New Jew’s old campus at the time, and during Bonus I found myself awkwardly standing with a friend in the parking lot as he appeared on the balcony of the second floor with a microphone and speaker. He sang a snippet of “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, and to this day I’ve thought of him every time I listen to that song.
Whether it was watching him on stage, listening to his brutal honesty, engaging in life talks with him, or hearing him crack jokes to help the rest of us not take life too seriously, Brad is and always will be a gift.
These are many moments that have really stuck with me over the years. But during this past week, when I’ve really had a chance to reflect on Brad and the way he impacted our time in high school, what I remember the most is feeling so loved by him. He gave the longest hugs, held my hand for the longest periods of time – and then, in Brad style, would comment about how crazy it was that our hands never got sweaty together. He would yell my name every time I saw him in the hallway or in theatre rehearsal, we would laugh together at his quirky weird jokes, and I felt like I had some of the most real and genuine conversations of my life...with him.
Brad had such a large presence and I am beyond thankful to have spent such important years alongside him. I know that his loud, loving, stubborn, silly self will remain with all of us as we continue to remember him.
– Jordy, friend