For my kids, Alan Rickman will always be known as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series. On screen, I greatly enjoyed his work in the original “Die Hard” and opposite Emma Thompson in “Love Actually.” (The lesser-known cult classic “Galaxy Quest” comes in third, at least for me.)
Like many actors, however, Rickman’s first love was the stage, and he returned often after establishing his movie career. On a business trip in 2002, I was fortunate to see him in the Tony Award-winning revival of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives.”
“Private Lives,” written in 1930, is a screwball comedy about “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” divorcees who reunite and abandon their new spouses on the first night of their honeymoons. As with any classic farce, it is wonderful when handled with care and imagination, and falls completely flat when it’s not.
The Rickman revival, in which he reunited with frequent co-star Lindsay Duncan (who won the Tony for Best Actress), was a brilliant night of theatre. Witty, sophisticated, often laugh-out-loud hilarious, and, surprisingly, full of heart.
Walking back to my hotel on that mid-summer evening, I marveled at the performances and the show. More than a decade later, it remains a fond memory of actors working at the top of their craft.
RIP, Mr. Rickman. It was a pleasure to see you live.
(And, it goes without saying, there has been too much death in the entertainment world this week…)