Monday, July 20, 2009

valcq quits: skylight "doesn't exist anymore"

james valcq, composer of the spitfire grill and zombies from the beyond, has become the latest skylight artist to jump from the sinking skylight ship.
To the Skylight administration and board,

It is with deep regret that I write this letter of resignation. Although I recently signed a contract to serve as musical director of your upcoming production of “Plaid Tidings”, I signed it knowing that Bill Theisen would be the stage director. Since this is no longer the case, I must withdraw my services from the production. My apologies to the talented cast members I so looked forward to working with.

I must also decline my agreement to create with Leslie Fitzwater a Skylight Cabaret show, a verbal agreement we made with musician and well-known insubordinate Jamie Johns. Leslie and I were planning to celebrate our collective 75 - seventy-five! - years of Skylight experience in a loving tribute. I don't know how we can do that now.

Within the last 24 hours, treasured friends and colleagues have written to the Skylight clear-headed and clear-eyed letters of resignation. This one is different. This one is emotional. You see, my perspective is different from any of my countless Skylight family members. Others (Ellie Quint, for example) got there before I did. Others (Norman Moses, for one) arrived shortly after me, but have done more shows. As for me, I first appeared at the Skylight as a boy all of 7 years old. I've continued there as an adolescent, a young adult, and a middle-aged man. That sort of sounds like home, doesn't it? Perhaps one always views one's childhood home from a child's perspective. A safe place, a place where you learn. A place where you grow. A place you can trust. A place that expects, and gets, the best you have to offer. A place where you form life-long relationships that support and nurture.

The Skylight I've spent so much of my life in was exactly such a place. And also, a place of intense creativity. A unique place where music and theatre of all shapes and sizes thrived. A place where (if you'll pardon a pretentious-sounding word from an unpretentious man) art was made. By eliminating the artistic leadership of the organization, the Skylight has, in effect, eliminated its very reason for existence.

I grew up at the Skylight. I always thought in my heart that I'd grow old at the Skylight. Sadly, this is not to be. Especially sad that such appalling events are happening on the eve of the Skylight's 50th anniversary. I would like to celebrate 50 years of my home. Let's get some hall somewhere, and all of us who love the Skylight gather and share the old stories. Sing the old songs. Do the old Clair Richardson 'step-kick'. Remember what it was all for. What it was all about. Remember our home. It's not on Jefferson Street anymore. It's not on North Broadway anymore. Perhaps we'll find a new one. The old one will always be the center of my creativity, my soul, my life. The old one doesn't exist anymore.


James Valcq


  1. Now I'm bawling and it's time to put down the computer and go to bed.

  2. Wow. That's all I can say about that.


  3. Wow - can it be said any better or get any worse than this - s anyone listening yet???????

  4. Remember: The sky's the limit! With eloquent artists of this caliber, it won't be long before the spirit of Clair will resurface in some form to continue the good work that used to be the Skylight.

  5. Wow James... I'm so sorry that it has come to this for you and Pam, Jamie and Richard, Becky and Diana and Bill of course ( I know I'm missing people )... You guys were the reason I wanted to work there again after all those years - and it was great to know that the Skylight hadn't changed - that, to put it simply , was just about a bunch of people wanting to share their talent and creativity and love of the arts. The heart is now gone and what's left? I realize it's called show "business" but whose business is it?

  6. Dearest James,

    I never had the pleasure of working with you, but I am weeping reading your post. I can honestly say I share your sentiments, even though my association with the Skylight was much briefer. When I was "unhireable" after the birth of my child, it was Bill and Skylight that said I was valuable and hired me back, made me feel like what I had to offer was good, and got me back to performing. When I was low, Richard Carsey, Dottie Danner, Paula Suozzi demanded I give myself to the audience, and not a proximity of Callas or some other superstar, and that was what healed me. Skylight was always my touchstone. I am so deeply sad for it, and, selfishly, for myself.

  7. Theisen, Johns, Carsey, Krieger, Spice, Fitzwater, Briggle, Berneche, and Valcq.

    Calliope, Erato, Euterpe, Terpsichore, Urania, Melpomene, Thalia, Polyhymnia, and Clio.

    And Diana Alioto, our Regina di putti.

    My daughters are gathered, our gifts withdrawn, wheresoever we land, let artists follow.

  8. Ms. Hefty -
    All of this heartbreak and pain happened on your watch. History will remember.

  9. Konnie KuchenbachJuly 21, 2009 at 9:35 AM

    I remember that performance of Wozzeck and 7 year old James Valcq. It was my first staged performance of Berg's masterpiece. Through the years the Skylight has broadened my opera going experiences with the first performances of Dialogues of the Carmelites, Betrothal in a Monastery, Susannah, Eugene Onegin, Rise and Fall of Mahogany and many others. Those were fearless days. I also remember Zombies. Here is one Milwaukeean who wishes all the Skylight alumni to live long, prosper and carry the can do Spirit of the Skylight to the ends of the earth.

  10. Hey guess what!! NO word from The Skylight!!


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