Louis D — RIP

Louis DiCrescenzo (right) and Terry Shaughnessey backstage at "Bozo the Town".

The one and only Louis DiCrescenzo, the gifted artist who designed and built both The John Lennon Auditorium at 703 Howard Street and The Piper’s Alley Theatre at North & Wells, passed away last week.

Brad Hall, his cast-mate in the original production of “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?”, introduced Louis to The Practical Theatre Company in 1981. Louis’ imprint on the PTC was much, much larger than the big man himself.

The big man in a note session backstage with us during "Bozo the Town". (From right) Sheldon Patinkin, Vic, Paul, Louis D., Bea and Steve Rashid. (Kyle Hefner, below left)

Big, affable, talented Louis D will be remembered by members, friends and fans of The Practical Theatre Company not only for his visionary theatre designs – but also for his scene-stealing performances as stage manager in “Art, Ruth & Trudy” and “Bozo the Town”, as well as his wonderful turns on the PTC/WMAQ-TV projects, “Overnight Guest” (as landlord, Nick Nickolopopolous) and the Emmy-winning live broadcast of “Deer Season.”

Paul, Louis, Kyle and Vic in "Bozo the Town". (1987)

Louis D was larger than life.

And we were glad to have worked, rehearsed, performed – and laughed – with him.

RIP Louis.

We love you.

Here’s Louis’ obituary in The Chicago Tribune…

13 Comments

Filed under Art, Comedy, History

13 responses to “Louis D — RIP

  1. Anonymous

    Oh shit. I’m really sorry to hear about this. Please extend my sympathy.

    Of course I was smoking then. How I miss it and all of you.

    Much love,
    Sheldon

  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

    Jerry G.

  3. Angela

    So sorry to hear about Louis! He was a delightful man, happy to share his talents.
    Sending loving thoughts to Louis and all who knew him.
    Angela

  4. Deb Gohr

    So great to see all the comments and pictures. Louie and I have been very close for many years. I had been spending a lot of time with him up to the end. I know he was well loved and will be missed. I will keep you all posted if and when we will be doing a service. He didn’t want one but I think we should celebrate his wonderful life and share stories. Deb Gohr

  5. Thanks, everyone — for taking a moment to remember Louis. I’ll never forget one particular moment when we were building the John Lennon Auditorium and Louis paused in his exertions and looked over and saw 3 or 4 of us “helpers” — all pulling out crooked nails at the same time!

    Louis did not panic. He stayed with the project — guided his motley crew of amateur carpenters with all the patience the big man could muster — and the JLA was completed against all odds.

    He deserves a special place in heaven just for that.

  6. Deb Carr

    I am absolutely shocked…I loved him…he was someone I absolutely adored at Western Illinois University Theatre Department. How I wish we could have connected. Gosh I am really, really sad that never happened. What an amazing artist…I am at a loss for words. God bless his memory and may his family find peace.

  7. I’m so sorry to hear of Louie’s passing, We grew up together on the South Side and did theatre together for many years. I went to WIU because of Louie. Wish I could have connected with him again after all these years. Sending condolences and love to his family and friends. Star (Szatunas) Summerfield

  8. Anonymous

    I did not know Louie well. Still, I am shocked and saddened to learn of his death. I remember many a happy day I spent at Practical, both in the audience and otherwise. The John Lennon Auditorium was a wonderful place to be, thanks in no small measure to Louie’s imaginative design, which could have been called “How to Take a Shoe Box and Turn it into a Home”. I will always remember playing four square on that exquisite little stage with other Practical Theatre stalwarts – – and getting roundly clobbered.
    A shout out to you all.
    Jack (AKA Yakov) Neiditch

  9. Terry Barron

    Sorry to hear about Louis D. It feels like a sock to my Practical gut. The fact that both the JLA and Piper’s Alley spaces are still sharply etched in my mind is testimony to the magic of Louis’s design. We tend to shortchange the architecture of our artful pursuits but any place of meaning stays fixed in our memories, doesn’t it? Louis was responsible for setting that place for us. Who would’ve thought that 42 seats could resonate so strongly in us all these years later?

  10. Louie made me laugh so hard, he told a great story. I will miss him.

  11. Anonymous

    Thank you for remembering Louie and for letting his family see how many other lives have been touched by Louie’s creativity, sense of humor and his love of making others feel good. Louie’s sister, Theresa

  12. Anonymous

    From a fan of his high school days and having the opportunity to see his performance on the professional stage I will miss him.

  13. I first saw Louie when he played King Herrod in JC Superstar at WIU in 1974/75? I was a senior in high school in Macomb. I had never seen someone play a character so well, we were rolling in the aisles. In fact, I was reviewing the show for the Macomb High Chool newspaper and wrote theat Louie stole the show. A couple of years later I was a Psychology major at WIU and was thrilled to run the spotlight for a production of Godspell he was in. We took the show to the Pzazz dinner theater in Burlington, IA and I got to hang out with the actor I was totally in awe of. I felt so lucky to know him and felt special that I could actually be his friend and joke around wiith him. 1977 was the last time I saw or heard from him. Sounds like he had a wonderful life, made many people happy, and was fulfilled. Why am I not surprised? God bless you Louie D.

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