Jeff Kinman

Jeff Kinman, 1965-2012

Ashley White writes about an actor and singer we lost this week, Jeff Kinman. With audio and video.

published Saturday, December 29, 2012

Editor's Note, Jan. 4: Memorial service information has been added into this tribute.

Photo: Mark Oristano
Jeff Kinman

So now they want to clip his precious wings and bring him down

But in his heart and soul's the kind of good they can't destroy

So now I wanna see him fly, fly

I'll be your alibi, my baby

Fly, fly, fly away

We didn't get to say goodbye, goodbye

No need to tell me why, my baby

Maybe it's because you'll fly back home to me one day


These simple words were the poignant lyrics sung by Jeff Kinman at his last public performance in May of 2012. It was his eighth time participating in Broadway Our Way, an annual fundraiser held by Uptown Players. He had been battling Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) for many years and was beginning the downward slope of his illness. He appeared weak and a bit gaunt, but when he opened his mouth and began to sing, the audience thought of nothing but his beautiful performance. He withdrew from the public eye shortly after to battle his illness in private.

Jeff took his last breath a few short months later in the early hours of Dec. 28, 2012. He was surrounded by friends and family. He spent the last two weeks of his life wrapped in love and comfort at Legacy Founders Cottage in Oak Cliff. He was 47 years old.

Jeff was known far and wide in the Dallas theater community for his soaring tenor voice and his perfectionist approach, which always guaranteed a beautiful performance. He was also a renowned voice teacher, having reached the dream of opening his very own Vocal Studio in 2011.

Photo: Mark Oristano
Jeff Kinman (with Buddy Shanahan, another person we lost in 2012, at piano)

Jeff had a knack for sarcasm and a reputation for a no-nonsense approach to everything around him. He was honest and direct, with a heart of pure gold. He had a dry sense of humor that was matched with a feisty wit, and he topped it all off with impeccable taste.

Jeff received critical acclaim for many of his performances in the area, including his role as "Buddy" in Uptown Players' Rabin Award-winning production of The Last Session and as "The Minister" in A New Brain. He performed regularly with Uptown Players, Lyric Stage, Theatre Three, Theatre Arlington, Flower Mound Performing Arts Theatre and many other venues. He was an active member of Actors' Equity Association.

Photo: Mark Oristano
Jeff Kinman in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" at Uptown Players

He met his partner of nine years, local Music Director and Composer Adam C. Wright, when they both worked on a cabaret hosted by Uptown Players at After Dark on Cedar Springs in 2003. During their relationship, they embarked on many projects in the area, including the acclaimed run of Into the Woods at Richardson Theatre Center, and writing the musical A Taste of Beauty along with John de los Santos, which was featured at the Uptown Players' Inaugural Pride Performing Arts Festival. Jeff and Adam lived in the Turtle Creek area of Dallas.

The memorial service honoring Jeff Kinman will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd., Dallas. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Jeff's honor to Legacy Founders Cottage.

Please share your memories of Jeff in the comments section, below the videos, at the end of this story.

◊ The lyrics at the top are from the song "Fly, Fly Away" from the musical Catch Me If You Can.

◊ Cover photo of Jeff Kinman by Mark Oristano


◊ Here is audio of Jeff Kinman singing the song "Going At It Alone" from The Last Session:


◊ Here is a video of him singing the Jason Robert Brown song "Moving Too Fast" at Bill's Hideaway Club, with Adam C. Wright on piano:



◊ And here is a video of (from left) Philip Bentham, Amy Stevenson, Jeff Kinman and Kelly Holmes singing "Hear My Song" from Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World at Mama's Party in 2010. 

 Thanks For Reading


Cathy O'Neal writes:
Saturday, December 29 at 2:35PM

When I went to Legacy House to see Jeff the Saturday before Christmas, one of the things I told him was that when I first met him, I was scared of him. He was kind of "larger than life" at the time -- his size, his presence, his VOICE. But it didn't take long before we became friends. We shared a love for sarcasm, words and good grammar. He was always fun to talk to and genuinely kind. And sheer joy to listen to when he sang. None of us will forget his final Broadway Our Way appearance. Or him. My last words to him were "Rest well, my friend." I'm sure he is.

Cat Hallman Hayes writes:
Saturday, December 29 at 5:56PM

I had the privilege to meet this beautiful spirit when he was just starting out on his theatrical journey. We shared the stage every day for a year in 1984 and I considered him my little pet. I loved him and I gave him hell and he enjoyed it all with equal appreciation. He had an energy and willingness and light in his eyes and smile, and I was proud that he grew into the stellar performer so many came to know him as. Rest, my love...

Ashley White writes:
Saturday, December 29 at 6:13PM

Thank you.

Chuck writes:
Sunday, December 30 at 10:39AM

This amazing man came into my life as a recipient of his personally recorded cassette at a meeting we attended in 2000 - I want to find this!! I'd followed him in every show and watched him continue to blossom over the years. I will miss you Jeff - I will miss you so much!! Thank you TheaterJones for the article!!

Sunnie Murphy writes:
Sunday, December 30 at 11:44AM

To the many, many, friends and loved ones of Jeff - I never met him, but yet I heard so much, read so much - I felt like I did know him. To have someone that had that much impact on the life and talents of my niece and nephew in law, I know he was a great man. A man whose life deserves to be honored, a man who touched so many and will continue to touch many more lives - because someone like Jeff does not die. His spirit will live on through the many voices of those he taught, of those he performed for, and of those he loved. I can only hope and wish that when it is my time to leave this plane of existence, that my footprint on earth will be as large as that of Jeff's. Rest in Peace, Jeff. My love to Ashley and Aaron White.

Raquel Lydia Leal writes:
Sunday, December 30 at 4:00PM

I took a Meisner acting course with Jeff Kinman at Watertower Theatre in Addison. He had a lot of heart and determination. He seemed passionate about becoming a better actor even though he was already an experienced stage performer. As the class progressed, I realized how much acting meant to Jeff, since even though he was incredibly busy, he still took the time to come to Meisner class. He also showed me a few things about singing in his lovely studio. THANKS AND RIP JEFF.

Rebecca Bell writes:
Sunday, December 30 at 5:42PM

The first time I met Jeff was when he had my daughter, Reanna, audition to be his student in the Spring of 2011. He told her that her volume was a "2," and to listen to her any more would mean she needed to get to an "8" before the end of the audition lesson! Her last lesson with Jeff was in early September, and at the end of the lesson Adam took over at the piano for a few songs. He had tears in his eyes when he turned to me and said "I barely recognize her." Jeff was individually responsible for changing her life and mine in the process. And I will love him always. (Jeff - Reanna is who she is because you were. Her voice will always be a tribute to you. Your beautiful song lives on in her and so many others.)

Kevin MacLellan writes:
Saturday, January 5 at 7:42PM

Jeff and I met in 1991 in New York. We became instant friends and helped each other through many of the challenges one faces in your early adult lives. We were soon broke all the time, but we managed to have a lot of fun. We could milk a cup of coffee at an East Village diner for hours and laugh the whole time. I am profoundly sad to hear of Jeff's passing. He will forever be one of the best parts of my youth. Jeff, thanks for the laughs, the understanding, the support, and the songs. I love you my friend.

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Jeff Kinman, 1965-2012
Ashley White writes about an actor and singer we lost this week, Jeff Kinman. With audio and video.
by Ashley White

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