The 59-year-old theatre artist suffered a massive stroke, prompting "hundreds of friends, family, students and colleagues" to visit him at the University of Michigan hospital "to show their support to his family and be with Jim in his last hours," according to David Wolber, artistic director of Ann Arbor's Performance Network, where Mr. Posante as an active associate artist.
He directed the company's current production of Souvenir, the play with music about Florence Foster Jenkins. Among his other credits at Performance Network, Ann Arbor's Off-Broadway-style theatre, are choreography for The Baker's Wife, which featured his longtime partner, Charlie Sutherland, who survives him. He co-directed the troupe's Take Me Out, and directed two new works by Michigan playwright Kim Carney there — The Home Team and Moonglow.
In a posting on a memorial website devoted to Mr. Posante, Carney wrote, "In over 20 years of playwriting, I've gone through lots of directors, but I never connected with one the way I did with Jim Posante. The first time we met we clicked, and I felt as though I'd known him all my life. He wasn't the kind of director who thinks that the playwright's job is done once rehearsals begin. He always welcomed my input and strived to put my vision of the play on stage. And he succeeded, with a directorial style both inventive and natural, and an amazing way of working with actors. Our collaboration on The Home Team was so much fun, and resulted in such a wonderful production, that when Moonglow came along it was taken for granted that Jim would direct. I have since written a new play, Jeffrey & Geoffrey, which was inspired by Jim and Charlie's relationship, and the plan was for Jim to direct that one too. Sadly, it is not to be. But I'll always be grateful for the opportunity to work with Jim and be his friend. He was one of a kind. I loved him and I'll miss him very much."
Performance Network audiences remember how Mr. Posante stepped into the already-running production of The Fantasticks in 2006. He was a replacement actor and played one of the show's two frisky fathers, opposite Sutherland. "They got to dance together on stage," Wolber told Playbill.com.
Mr. Posante taught theatre at the private Greenhills School in Ann Arbor for more than 30 years, influencing thousands. He recently staged a student production of Twelfth Night there. According to The Ann Arbor News, Mr. Posante had worked with many theatre companies over the years, including Ann Arbor Civic Theater, the U-M Gilbert & Sullivan Society, Purple Rose Theatre Company, The Blackbird Theatre and more.
Friends and family members have been posting their memories of Mr. Posante at a memorial website, www.jimposante.org.
Funeral services will be performed Jan. 19 at 11 AM at The Michigan Theatre, 603 E. Liberty Street in Downtown Ann Arbor.
A reception will follow in the lobby, and an additional reception will then be held at the Metro Cafe in Ann Arbor's Kerrytown area, at 303 Detroit St.