Tuesday, October 20, 2015

You probably didn’t recognize the name of Henry Bishop in his Akron Beacon Journal obituary.

But if you attended stage plays in Summit, Wayne and Medina counties in the past three decades, you probably saw Bishop perform.

In chess move terms, as Tal Shaked did to Alexander Morozevich in the penultimate round of the 1997 World Junior Chess Championship: Bishop to King of the Akron area thespians, particularly the classics, and even more specifically, Shakespeare.

Bishop, 73, acted at Stan Hywet, at the Goodyear Community Theatre, at Coach House, with the Players’ Guild in Canton, the Magical Theatre Company, the Wayne County Performing Arts Council, Stage Partners of Wayne County and in the Ohio Shakespeare Festival.

To quote Shakespeare, "the game is up" for Cincinnati native and Creston resident Henry, as of Thursday, Oct. 15, when he passed away in Wooster.

Tributes on Henry Bishop’s Facebook page bring to mind another Shakespeare quote: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.”

"A Celebration of Henry," honoring his life, will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Genesis Party Center, 10265 Wooster Pike, Creston. Special presentations will begin at 2:30 p.m.

"Why, then the world's mine oyster" for Henry when he married Karen Wood decades ago and knew "I bear a charmed life.”

Henry was a graduate of The University of Akron and Versailles High School in Indiana and attended Hanover College and Indiana University.

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts." In Henry’s case, that would be actor and singer, radio personality, television weatherman, entrepreneur and game room owner and operator, jeweler, director and teacher.

At Weathervane Playhouse, he won nine Chanticleer Awards; and, at Coach House Theater, two Royal Coach House Awards.

Retired Stow-Munroe Falls High drama and English teacher Tom Stephan, who appeared in shows with PD and former BJ entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak and Mark’s wife, Sara Showman, was among those who paid tribute to Henry.

Stephan wrote:

Going back to Henry's Watson to my Sherlock Holmes, through any number of Murder Mysteries by Moushey, to our shared scenes in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,’ to Ohio Shakespeare Festival productions, we simply clicked. We were friends who enjoyed the best in each other, always making each other even better."

Linda Ryan, a fellow actor from England's Halifax, West Yorkshire who lives in Akron with husband Steve Ryan, remembers when Henry starred when there was no spotlight on his performance.

Writes Linda:

“I remember how kind Henry was after I lost my daughter. I showed up to a rehearsal one night and was having a bad time when sudden memories of her crowded in. He somehow recognized what I was going through and hugged me and held me for long enough to pull myself together. That's the kind of guy he was.”

Indeed, Linda, a man for all seasons. 

Marci Paolucci of Cuyahoga Falls, whose thespian work includes the Actors Summit, Sandefur Theatre and Weathervane, wrote:
“I first met Henry Bishop and his beautiful wife, Karen Wood, when they were both in ‘She Loves Me’ at Weathervane. I think it was about 1985 or '86 I was working backstage on props and costume changes. They were both very nice to me--I hadn't done much backstage work before that show.
“Over the years, Henry was always so kind and encouraging to me in all my theatrical endeavors. We were in a few shows together. My favorite was ‘Oedipus’ at The University of Akron's Sandefur Theatre in 1996. Henry was Oedipus and I was Iocosta. It was a thrilling experience for me.
“Henry was very generous as an actor to his fellow performers and that carried over to his interaction with one offstage. I always knew that, if Henry (and/or Karen) were in a show I would always enjoy myself as an audience member. He was marvelous to watch. He had a wicked sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye. I learned a lot from him. I miss him very much. His star is shining brightly in the heavens.”
Another fellow actor, James Elliott Fippin, who lives in Wadsworth and spent time on the Coach House Theatre stage, wrote:

“Henry was a gifted actor, and a pleasure to work with, because he made you feel like you had a friend and an ally. We were lucky to have him in our lives and on our stages.”
Henry is survived by his sister, Barb Ritz of Belhaven, North Carolina.

Contributions in his memory may be made to LifeCare Hospice, 1900 Akron Rd., Wooster, OH 44691 or to a drama or music boosters' organization at any local school.

Murray Funeral Home in Creston is handling arrangements.

"Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow.” RIP, Henry.

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