While some knew him as Jonah and others as Mac, we all loved and respected him. And we miss him dearly.

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Jonah @ PGT: Maddie Hendricks

“Jonah’s Years at PGT” is The Jonah Maccabee Foundation’s autumn fundraiser for 2013. Throughout November and December 2013, we’ll be remembering, mainly through the writing of his friends, some of the great fun and growing Jonah experienced at PGT. We’re hoping you’ll be inspired to help us provide other kids with similarly loving direction along the road to wholeness during their own childhood years. Please consider making your tax-deductible gift at jonahmac.org by Sunday, January 5, 2014. Okay, or any other time. Thank you. You’re the best!


Maddie Hendricks remembers …

Maddie Hendricks

Maddie Hendricks

After graduating from The George Washington University in May, Maddie Hendricks moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in TV,Film and Theatre writing and acting. She is now working as a Writers’ Production Assistant on the new CW show, “Reign,” and absolutely loves it!

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“Okay guys, we need an outstanding team member with a positive attitude, a good voice, and a willingness to jump into anything on short notice…”

It was two weeks before tech week when [director] Jill [Abusch] announced that we were in desperate need of someone to play Daniel’s father in our production of Once On This Island. She paced the room as she spoke, trying to think of who on earth would be willing to play this role on such short notice – and who could look mildly like [cast member] Dan Carlyon’s father. Then, suddenly, a smile spread across her face.

“I’ve got it.”

And with that, she ran out of the Yellow Room: a room we practically lived in back at the [old rehearsal space in the] White Plains Mall, a room of luxury and elegance and…oh wait, I did not grow up in NoBro [PGT’s new digs]. No jealousy here! Anyway! A few moments later, she returned, her face beaming.

“Duh. Jonah!”

The following experience best describes Jonah’s character (pun intended) at the time I knew him: a positive spirit with a passion for acting. In fact, the only thing he loved more than acting was helping out the people he cared for.

Jonah'sYears@PGT.2013.11.BlogAd.Final.largeJoining a cast two weeks before curtain is no small feat, but Jonah did it beautifully. He had this confidence that allowed him to jump into a cast of 30 plus kids – a situation that would terrify most high school students – and not only become a part of the team, but trick everyone into thinking he’d been there all along. Oh, and did I mention he also became the Assistant Stage Manager? Because, you know, saving our show onstage wasn’t quite enough; he needed to keep everything organized backstage too. That was Jonah. That’s just the kind of guy he was.

What astounded me most about Jonah’s involvement, however, was his ability to quietly steal the show. That’s right. Come on, Jonah! Here we all were, working our butts off for months, and Jonah swoops in and creates this character with a backstory, accent, and a consistently funny punch line. While the rest of us struggled through tech week, Jonah got laughs on his very few lines every night, one of which I will never forget…

In his main scene, Jonah was supposed to warn his son not to fall in love with a peasant girl, “Ti Moune” – someone his son could never actually marry. The line in the song was, “You are not the first to want a peasant, I too know their appeal.” Most people would sing this and never think twice about the humor behind it. But Jonah, being Jonah, took his time, humorously tormenting his son with his firm advice.

Jonah and Dan “Once On This Island” May 2007

When his section started up, he gripped Dan’s shoulder with one arm, while sticking his other arm out in front of them, painting a picture in a gangster-meets-architect kind of way. When he said, “I too know their appeal,” he slapped Dan’s chest, vulgarly confiding in his innocent son. Then, a moment later, he screamed, “But you are my son, you’ll do what must be done, no matter what you feel!” And then promptly stormed off the stage.

In just a few lines, Jonah managed to play the buddy, the creep, and the terrifying father – and bring the house down every time. By making his character real, Jonah added a whole new dimension to his son’s life, forcing the audience to sympathize with Daniel and perhaps understand why he later leaves Ti Moune in the dust. So when I say Jonah “stole the show,” I’m lying. He actually played a vital role (pun intended again) in telling the story.

It takes both courage and grace to join a musical on short notice. But it takes the Jonah-magic to not only bring a character onstage, but also bring him to life. When I think of Jonah, four years after his death, I think of these moments – and there are many, many more. These memories allow me to celebrate his life, rather than mourn it, though I think we all still do. But I have to remind myself that Jonah was a celebrator, and so, the best way to mourn his death has to be to celebrate his life.


P.S. Please give generously to our Autumn 2013 campaign at jonahmac.org. As always, we are ever grateful for your friendship and support.

One Response to “Jonah @ PGT: Maddie Hendricks”

  • Ann Zisser:

    Solly was in this show. He bonded with Jonah. Solly was the only “little kid” big enough to move scenery. It was Solly’s job and Jonah’s job together – apparently. It was this show that introduced Solly to Jonah. He remembers it all to this day.

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