Darren DeVerna: He made Broadway a whole lot brighter.
Broadway lost someone this week who most people outside of Broadway’s Inner Circle wouldn’t know.
But if you ask me, Darren DeVerna was one of the pillars that Broadway was built on, and one of the reasons it was still standing.
He wasn’t a bold-faced name, despite the fact that he knew everyone, having come into the biz as a stagehand in 1977 (and having been born into a stagehand royalty family), and that his company, PRG, supplied the lighting equipment for 75% of the shows on Broadway.
He was often called on for advice, for counsel, to mediate disagreements, for “relief” (reductions in rental costs when a show wasn’t doing well), investment, and much, much more.
And he always helped. Somehow. Always.
And don’t even get me started at how he relentlessly picked up the check, or sent the most glorious holiday gifts, or always wore a suit, or . . .
I could go on and on, but I guess it’s easier to say that he was Broadway’s finest gentleman.
He ended every one of the many lunches we had at Joe Allen’s or golf games at his club, with a giant bear hug (and he was a big guy), and a “Love you, pal!” and a “Keep grinding!” or a “Just tell me what you need and we will work it out!”
In fact, I just scrolled through the emails I got from him over the last year, after he got his diagnosis with cancer and was in treatment, and this was just a sample of how he signed off:
“I may be a tad slow on the response on certain days but I will be there for you!!!”
“I will be back in the saddle shortly!”
We were supposed to have lunch right as this COVID nonsense was beginning, and now I have another reason to hate this virus. Yeah, today, I’m truly angry.
But he wouldn’t want me to be. He’d just want me to keep grinding. Especially now.
So I will.
Darren, you were a friend, a mentor, and an inspiration. You taught me about lighting . . . but more importantly about loyalty.
And Broadway will never be the same without you.
Thank you for making it a better place to do business.