Producers behind the curtain of Broadway's long-running "Chicago" have retained a lawyer amid claims that a cast member died by suicide after enduring relentless bullying from the show's director and musical director, Page Six reports.
Jeff Loeffelholz had been a member of the "Chicago" cast for 22 years before his June 29 suicide. According to his friends and advocates, director Walter Bobbie and musical director Leslie Stifelman wanted him out, but his contract prevented them from firing him.
Since they couldn't fire Loeffelholz, the "Justice for Jeff" campaign claims, Bobbie and Stifelman forced him to endure a "tortuous rehearsal," during which they allegedly berated him as he repeatedly performed the same songs he's been singing onstage for more than two decades.
During a Friday meeting with the cast, producers Fran and Barry Weissler reportedly expressed "deep sadness about the tragedy" before introducing attorney Judd Burstein, who will investigate the allegations.
Burstein wrote a public note to the "Justice for Jeff" campaign urging cast and crew members to contact him with any relevant information: "If you want to speak to me on a confidential basis, I will never reveal your name."
Loeffelholz was the last remaining member of the original "Chicago" 1996 opening night cast. He is survived by his partner Peter De La Cruz, and his family has requested donations to BroadwayCares/Equity Fights AIDS.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
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