Thursday, December 04, 2008

OBT: Phil in the news

Kuhlman remembered by friends
Conor Harrison, The Daily Times, Published December 4, 2008

Playhouse 2000 lost one of its own this week when Phil Kuhlman, 26, succumbed to cancer.

According to best friend and Playhouse 2000 director Jeff Cunningham, Kuhlman had battled the disease since around Easter 2006.

“He woke up one morning paralyzed, and the doctors found a tumor that was destroying bone in his back. He spent years in physical therapy and had a clean MRI in August. In September, the cancer had returned.”

Kuhlman was very active in Playhouse 2000, moving from a stage hand to roles in “Watership Down”, “Biloxi Blues” and “Dearly Departed.”

“The 2006 season really belonged to him,” Cunningham said.

Kuhlman’s passion, along with acting, was horror writing.

“That was his passion,” Cunningham said. “He was published in Shroud Magazine, and he has a lot of unpublished stuff that his mom and I are trying to get published.”

Along with his artistic talents, Kuhlman will be missed for the joy he brought to others — especially his stage family.

“He was more than just a talent,” said friend and co-worker Jessica Roberts. “Phil was like a long-lost brother to me. He was one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known. Just talking with him was great because he was so well versed and so smart. You weren’t afraid to be exactly who you were in front of him.”

Kuhlman’s self-deprecating humor is a trait that will be most missed by his friends.

“He was the funniest guy I’ve ever met,” said Heather Cunningham. “He had a unique way of never making anything too serious. He could look at a situation a lot of people would get very emotional about and he could get to the bottom of the issue quickly. He had an innate sense of comic timing, and he was one of the most talented writers I’ve ever read.”

The last few months were a roller coaster for Kuhlman’s friends because he would get better and then regress.

“As much as you try to prepare for this, it still hasn’t hit us,” Heather Cunningham said. “He was such a big part of this place.”

In a tight-knit group like Playhouse 2000, not having Kuhlman around will be a change.

“We are all kind of sociopaths here in our family,” Jeff Cunningham said laughingly. “Not killers — but sociopathic joy. He fit right in. He never gave up. He brought a lot of joy to other people — a lot of his talent went unrealized because he spent so much of his time helping others. He was joy without concern.”

“He strove to reach so many goals — that he accomplished. His sheer determination was amazing.”

Jeff Cunningham said cancer awareness, along with education, will be two things in which the theater will become more involved.

“All the things Phil didn’t get a chance to do, it is now our duty to do those things.”

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