March 12 2009 12:00 AM

Service recalls BoarsHead founders humor, wisdom


Family, friends and theatergoers came together Sunday to commemorate the life of BoarsHead Theater co-founder Richard Thomsen. Thomsen died Nov. 17, at age 76. He was in seemingly good health despite a recent battle with lung cancer.

The two-hour memorial service included poetry, singing, storytelling and the comedy stylings of John Bowman, a comedian and former BoarsHead actor.

"This feels like a high school reunion, except the bully is dead," Bowman said.

Bowmans stories about his beloved, ballbusting friend made the more than 50 people in attendance roar with laughter. "I think Richard would have been disappointed if I didnt come up here and be a total jerk. He could dish it out, but he could take it."

There were few moments when laughter was not resonating throughout the theater. Everyone had a fond memory to share, which somehow incorporated Thomsens outspoken nature and dry sense of humor.

Although John Peakes, who started the theater with Thomesn, was unable to attend the service, Katie Doyle, the theater’s associate director who was first hired by Thomsen in 1979, read a letter he sent for the occasion.

When things went wrong on stage, Peakes’ letter explained, Thomsen would handle them with a stoic calm, otherwise known as walking off stage in the midst of a performance. When props failed, lines were jumbled and marks were missed, Thomsen could always be seen simply exiting the stage, if not the theater, and never looking back.

While his daughter Kira Thomsen-Cheek eventually spoke at the event, she had help reading her own personal letter about her father. "I cant think of many people who lived as richly as my dad did," the letter read.

When Thomsen made the journey to New York, where he spend his last 20 years, he moved in with his daughter. They lived together until she was married. “I was so lucky to be friends with my father,” she said. “He was a great roommate.”

Anders Thomsen also said a few words about his father and the many things he taught him, including, "Keep your mouth shut and do your work," and "Dont piss on an electric fence."