Jim’s goal was always to get to the core of a character by helping his students apply their own feelings and experiences to that character. He wanted them to live through the character, not put on a show. He wanted his students to love acting and working in the theatre, but most importantly, to love themselves.
Jim’s passion for theatre stems from his desire to be a part of a big, expressive world. A musical theatre aficionado, his favorites include Hair, Once, Kinky Boots, No No Nanette, Legally Blonde, Sweeney Todd, Follies, Funny Girl, Gypsy, Fun Home, Falsettos and Rent (and dramatic plays Iceman Cometh and Angels in America). He has seen Broadway performances of Once and Kinky Boots 14 times each, and he wants to go 14 more!
When asked about a favorite memory from directing innumerable productions at Western, Jim related this gem: in the late 1990’s, while directing Two Gentleman of Verona, one scene had Chad Jennings and Michael Brandon engaged in a phone conversation. Jim wanted Chad’s character to switch phones with Michael in order to be closer to the audience. Chad froze; he had written his lines on the phone and had to fess up to Jim, who exploded with laughter. He was busted! Jim always brought this joyful, loving energy into his rehearsals.
Jim has generated mountains of cherished memories during his 30+ years of teaching at Western Washington University, having touched the lives of over 1,000 Theatre Majors and countless other students, faculty and staff. He was always there to help the "underdog" – the student who just needed a nudge to trust themselves to shine. We celebrate Jim’s legacy with pride and miss his daily presence in the halls more than words can say.
A fund has been established in Jim’s honor to support opportunities to enhance student's theatre education and experience while studying at Western Washington University.
This involves such activities as bringing guest artists to campus to perform (with an emphasis on musical theatre), supporting student voice lessons and opportunities to see and participate in different styles of theatre. Jim is interested in helping students become involved in global theatre, especially in Chicago, New York, London, Berlin and Mexico City.
Please give today to support this new Jim Lortz Theatre Enrichment Fund in honor of retiring professor Jim Lortz and carry on his legacy of helping Western's aspiring actors
Photos of Some of Jim's Favorite WWU Productions
Production Photos by Rachel Bayne Photography