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Investigations Opened to Explore Suicide of CHICAGO Actor Jeff Loeffelholz

This week, it was reported that Jeff Loeffelholz, an original cast member of the 1996 revival of Chicago, had taken his own life. Now, Actors' Equity and the show's producers are investigating the circumstances surrounding the actors suicide.

Page Six has reported that the producers of the show have hired attorney Judd Burstein to oversee the developing situation for "an exhaustive investigation on an expedited basis."

Actors' Equity, the union which represents theatrical actors and stage managers, has also announced its intentions to monitor the situation as the investigation occurs.

A statement from Equity reads, "Our thoughts are with the cast and all those affected by this tragic situation. Equity has and will continue to engage with the cast and monitor the situation, but due to a pending investigation by the employer, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

According to notes made by Loeffelholz following a June 22 rehearsal, the longtime standby was allegedly subject to a particularly grueling rehearsal, which he described as including harsh insults about his performance in front of the company of the show.

Peter De La Cruz, Loeffelholz's partner of more than thirty years, confirmed that Jeff had been distraught after the incident and had filed a complaint with Actors Equity. Several days later, he was admitted to the hospital for a lethal combination of painkillers and alcohol, and passed away shortly thereafter.

Loeffelholz made his Broadway debut with Chicago as an standby for the role of Mary Sunshine. He had been a member of the Broadway company for 22 years and was the last remaining original company member.

Some of the late actor's loved ones have also launched a blog called Justice for Jeff. Friends claim that the alleged behavior at the rehearsal may have been a tactic to force Loeffelholz out of the show, as his contract- a "run-of the play" agreement- guaranteeing his employment as an original cast member for as long as the show remained open- would not allow the production to fire him.

"The CHICAGO producers were informed by Actors Equity that Jeff Loeffelholz had passed away last Friday. The entire CHICAGO family are devastated by the loss of our company member," said a representative for Chicago.

Loeffelholz was the co-creator as star of the MAC-Award winning musical-comedy review Dangerous Duets. Loeffelholz also opened for Betty Buckley at New York's Bottom Line, and appeared at La Mama E.T.C. and MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He originated the role of the "Eunuch" in the workshop of Kander & Ebb's The Visit with Angela Lansbury. Read his full obituary here.

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