I’m grateful for Bill Hardy, who passed away last week. I met Bill 4 years ago, and only knew him for about 5 weeks. But my life is richer for having known him, and for that I’m grateful beyond words.
Bill was a fixture in the Houston Theater family for decades, and the Houston Grand Opera lucked out big time by scoring him to portray the "silent" role of Ambrogio, the servant, in our production of "The Barber of Seville". The image that refuses to leave its cemented place in my memory is of "Ambrogio" dangling from the chandelier he was cleaning as it rose high up over the stage at the end of Act 1: feet swimming, and eyebrows raising to infinity in surprise and childish delight. I’m not even bitter that I sang my socks off all night, and without a doubt, in the end, it was HIS SHOW! He stole it right out from under all the opera singers with his perfect timing and wicked smile!
But the lasting memory is of a man who was unapologetically larger than life, a devastating flirt, bursting at the seams with life and humor, and absolutely lighting up the world around him. He was an intoxicating presence.
Yesterday I attended his memorial service on the stage of the Alley Theater, and it was, like him, full of humor, heart, tears and laughter. As I looked at the theater packed with his family, friends, admirers and colleagues, I realized with new clarity how one person’s love of life can radiate and illuminate the hearts of so many others. Bill, you were a treasure…