Pete Wright, the 54-year-old Broadway stagehand who fell to his death last Thursday from a ladder on the fly floor above the Winter Garden Theater stage, is being remembered as “a force of nature, often doing the work of three men when he ran load ins and load outs” of theatrical sets.
In an online tribute posted by friend and coworker Dylan Foley, Wright was called a “legendary flyman” and mechanic with “a dry wit, an unstoppable work ethic and a trademarked grin.”
“If you asked for something from Pete,” Foley wrote on Facebook and his New York Stagehand Glossary blog, “his line was, ‘For you, the grid’s the limit.’ He was completely fearless in how he lived his life as a stagehand.”
Wright also was remembered by the Jujamcyn Theaters organization, owner of Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre where the stagehand was a longtime flyman. On Saturday, the venue announced plans to undim its marquee lights in honor of Wright – a COVID-era spin on the traditional dimming of marquee lights as memorial tributes. The August Wilson, as with the Winter Garden and all other Broadway venues, has been dark since the March 12 shutdown.
“On Thursday, we received tragic news about the death of one of our own: Pete Wright, long-time August Wilson Theatre Flyman,” Jujamcyn said in a Facebook post. “We are all devastated by the news and mourn this immense loss alongside Pete’s family, his work family, and his union family.
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“Since all of our marquees have been dimmed during the shutdown, we will illuminate the marquee at the August Wilson Theatre this weekend to remember and honor Pete, who brought such light into that theatre year after year.”
Wright died early Thursday morning after falling from the raised platform while performing routine maintenance at the Shubert Organization’s Winter Garden Theatre, home most recently to the musical Beetlejuice, which had already vacated the theater. The next tenant will be The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, set to begin performances on Dec. 20, 2021.
The New York Police Department and OSHA launched investigations, though the NYPD did not suspect any criminality.
In his Facebook post, Foley, a stagehand who worked with Wright on Broadway’s The Jersey Boys, said the “brothers and sisters of Local #1 IATSE suffered a horrible tragedy” with the death, recalling his friend as “one of four stagehand brothers who were known for their great work in the Local and all were legendary mechanics.”
“Pete leaves behind his beloved wife Marcie, who had also worked as a stagehand,” Foley wrote. “They met at the 1990s revival of Grease, at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.” The couple have two sons.
“A few years ago,” Foley wrote, “Pete bought an old industrial building in his town. He told me with a gleeful look on his face how he had converted the small building into the ultimate ‘man cave’… half woodworking shop, half metal shop. It sounded like a stagehand’s dream.”
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