Beloved gay musical director, accompanist and arranger Paul Reekie died unexpectedly on Friday, Oct. 2 after an accident at his Boca Raton home.
Bruce Linser, a close friend and colleague, broke the news on social media the following morning to a stunned South Florida theatrical community, sharing that Reekie, 48, had been working around the home. As of press time, further details had not been released.
Friends quickly took to Facebook and Twitter to share their grief:
“Our theatre community is in shock today, dealing with the sudden, tragic loss of music director Paul Reekie. Paul was a brilliant musician and pianist who was a mainstay in our community,” wrote music director Caryl Fantel, who posted a photo on Facebook of Reekie with three other local musicians performing on the same piano at a Carbonell Awards ceremony. “Thanks for sharing the music with me and so many others.”
“I am just heartbroken to hear about the passing of Paul Reekie,” wrote costume designer Rick Peña on Facebook.
Both actor Conor Walton and publicist Carol Kassie also described Reekie’s death as “a terrible loss to the community.”
Online tributes continue as the local theater community processes his death and remembers his legacy.
Reekie was born in Argentina in 1972 to an Argentinian mother and American father. The family moved to London and then back to his father’s home state of Michigan, where Reekie grew up. He took to music early, acting in school productions and reportedly was invited to perform for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Detroit in 1987.
He studied computer programming in college and followed his parents to Florida in 1989, where he took a job as a computer systems consultant.
Linser, who moved to the area in 2004, discovered Reekie accompanying a gay men’s chorus concert and recruited him to accompany his cabaret performances. Within a year, he was directing his first show at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
“He always blamed me or credited me for getting him into this world,” Linser said in an interview with Florida Theater on Stage.
Over the next 15 years, he directed dozens of critically-acclaimed shows at the Wick Theatre, Lynn University, Broward Stage Door, Marquee Theater Company, Palm Beach Dramaworks and Arts Garage. He was nominated twice for regional Carbonell Awards and won Silver Palm Awards for “Hair” and “The World Goes ‘Round” at MNM Theatre, where he was resident musical director.
Reekie frequently donated his talents to local nonprofit organizations and he enjoyed working with students and upcoming performers. He was set to music direct “The Light in the Piazza” at Palm Beach Dramaworks when COVID-19 forced the shutdown of live theatrical performances in March.
Reekie has no immediate family survivors, but friends and colleagues announced plans for a celebration of life gathering at a later date.