I must take a moment to thank the St. Louis Theater Community for their outpouring of love and kindness regarding the loss of my first-born son, Tim Venhaus, who died on Dec. 9.
He had just turned 34 and was on trimester break from DePaul University in Chicago, where he was working on an MFA in Screenwriting.
While this is a tremendous and painful loss, my youngest son Charlie and I are comforted by all the condolences, notes, cards, calls, attendance at visitation and/or funeral Mass, the flowers sent, the food dropped off and all the hugs.
The heartfelt support has been gratifying — and we are touched by your caring and concern. My fellow critics in the St. Louis Theater Circle, Arts For Life board of directors and Theater Recognition Guild judges, writing pals (including my review team here), and many actors, directors and producers in professional regional theater and community theater have expressed themselves so beautifully and eloquently.
So have my colleagues in St. Louis Film Critics Association, friends in Cinema St. Louis, radio folks, past and present staffers at Belleville News-Democrat, and SIUE faculty, staff and students in the mass communication department (I teach “Writing for the Media”). You always remember who reaches out because it means so much.
The grief has been overwhelming, and his sudden and unexpected passing has shocked us to our core. My year was already like a bad Lifetime movie, as I have a terminally ill brother, helping out an 86-year-old uncle with a myriad of things, like cancer treatments, and a super-crazy-busy schedule that I juggle with some percentage of success.
I appreciate your understanding and patience. I am slowly going to ease back into working. I must re-learn how to be normal again, and return to a regular routine. Please bear with me while I get a whole bunch of reviews and articles, like Take Ten, up — there is a backlog that I will be posting in the next two weeks, plus Go See a Play and Bright Lights. Some of it might not be so timely, but I want to get it all up.
I’ll be publishing my year-end “LOTTIES” (Lynn’s Love of Theater Awards), plus a special twist. Our Theater Circle ballots are due first week of January, and save the date for our awards, Monday, March 25, at the Loretto-Hilton Center. So much good theater this year! Our AFL Nominations will be announced at the annual Trivia Night on Friday, Feb, 1, with emcee Ryan Cooper, at St.Joseph’s Parish Center in Manchester.
Tim was a one-of-a-kind creative, talented writer, hilarious human, adventurous soul, and fiercely devoted to his family and friends. He had a big heart, loved to laugh — and make people laugh — and, according to his vast circles, was an “influencer,” a thought leader. He was the guiding light for his friends regarding movies, music and TV.
Tim as a game show host in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”While he was a natural onstage, he was most at home in front of or behind a camera. From the time he was a little kid, he was making movies with his friends and relatives. He earned a B.A. in Cinema Production at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, with a minor in theater, and interned at “Sesame Street.” He previously received an Associate’s degree from Southwestern Illinois College, thriving in Dan Cross’s film program. It changed his life.
His comedy shorts were selected three times for the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, and he won the screenwriting contest at “Alt.News 26:46” at SIUC back-to-back, the first student to do that — and his films were shown on the PBS station, WSIU — “My Dad Lives in a Trunk” and “Watermelon Falls.” His film “Lunchbreak” won the Audience Award at a SWIC Film Fest.
He was in a few community theater productions — “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Guys and Dolls,” “South Pacific” and “West Side Story” – plus the lead in a youth show — at Clinton County Showcase; Chance in “Ghost of a Chance” and Slovitch the butcher in Neil Simon’s “Fools,” both at Monroe Actors Stage Company; and two small roles in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” for Brass Rail Players at Lindenwood.
He mostly did the early musicals because he and his little brother loved to tag along to my rehearsals when I was involved in youth theater for the Breese Junior Women’s Club, and then community theater at CCShowcase. My boys did not get the musical comedy gene, nor could they sing a lick. But I could twist an arm if I needed some help.
He taught film-making to youths for two seasons at Summer Fenn in Concord, Mass., and at Nature’s Classroom, an outdoor environmental education program at 13 sites in New England, where he worked for spring and fall periods from 2005 to 2017. He was hired by a school district in Naperville to start a film-making program in January 2019.
Tim as an extra on “Everyday Magic” – he wound up on cutting room floorWhen he was interning at “Sesame Street,” he worked in the talent department and was in charge of taking care of the parents whose children were guest performers, and taking the kids to the stage, and sometimes, the guest stars. For his first cousin Nick’s two young children, Tim enlisted Abby Cadabby to record a Christmas greeting. It is posted below.
Tim sure made his mark in his 34 years. People came from near and far — all over the country — to pay their respects. The love was overflowing. So were the stories.
Hope you are able to enjoy a merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy new year. Covering theater has enriched my life, and reminded me that sharing our humanity through art is a wonderful connection to encourage.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
I am going to miss my goofball every day of the rest of my life. He was a wonderful son. It does not seem real that I have to talk about him in the past tense. Like so many other relationships he cultivated, we had a special bond. He will never be forgotten, and I am so blessed to have so many people in my corner. I can’t thank you enough.
Managing Editor 2018
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.