Remembering Richard Pacholski – R2
Tuesday, 28 August 2018
UK - LSi is sad to report the passing of Australian lighting designer Richard Pacholski – perhaps better known to many in the industry as R2 – on 19 August after a brief and intense battle with cancer.
Fellow lighting designer, and LSi journalist Rob Halliday remembers his friend and colleague: “For many people taking shows, particularly musicals, down under, R2 was the friendly face that welcomed you to Australia. You immediately knew, from the ‘Hey mate’ said in that calm Aussie voice, the big open smile and that sparkly twinkle in his eye, that everything was going to be alright.
“Richard began his career at the Adelaide Festival Centre, then joined the Australian Ballet. He wasn’t the first Richard there and so soon became R2, a name that just stuck. In the late 1980s, when Cameron Mackintosh set up an Australian office, R2 joined as lighting manager, touring with Cats, Les Misérables, Five Guys Named Moe, Phantom, Miss Saigon and Rent!. He then went freelance; his biog continued to read like a list of theatrical greatest hits, continuing his relationship with Cameron’s shows, but adding Mamma Mia!, Billy Elliot, We Will Rock You, Mary Poppins, Matilda, War Horse and more; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was due next.
“In every case, he’d figure out the show in fastidious detail, then assemble and lead a brilliant team who would deliver it with the utmost skill, dedication, delicacy and refinement. But a great time would be had by all along the way, while working hard in the theatre and then after-hours outside it. Achieving that combination is a very particular skill. It was one at which he excelled, and why he was adored by the crews, designers and producers - and everyone he worked with in Australia and wherever he went in the world re-creating those shows. Between all those shows, he went pretty much everywhere.
“It’s hard to believe a light so vibrant, so strong, so alive has faded out so unnecessarily early. He is, and will continue to be, sadly missed.”
Lighting designer Huge Vanstone adds: “I first worked with R2 on the Melbourne production of Joseph in 1992. Andrew Bridge was unable to attend so sent me as his associate. I was very green and more than slightly scared! R2 was incredibly kind and supportive and gently initiated me as to how the Aussies did theatre! Thanks to his brilliant organisation things went so well that I once reported back to Andy that things were going 'swimmingly' (code that I was at the beach with R2!).
“R2 soon became my best friend whenever I found myself spending a few months on the underside of the globe. Since then, we have worked on countless shows and as my own design career developed he became my associate for every single production I brought to Australia (most recently Matilda).
“It is no exaggeration to say that he was one of the very kindest and good people I have known, and that is why I shall miss him so very much.”
Many of R2’s friends and colleagues have expressed their sadness at his passing, including Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who said: “We’ve all lost a wonderful friend and brilliant talent - Heaven is going to look fabulous though!”
Vanstone continues: “A comedian to the end, I’m told that in his final hours in hospital, surrounded by teary-eyed relatives and friends in the process of saying goodbye, he suddenly awoke, sat bolt upright with his trademark wry smile and said, 'I’m still here you know!' In a way, he is still here, and will remain with all of us who knew him as one of the nicest people to walk the earth. To close, as R2 would doubtless be telling us now, look after each other and be sure to make the very most of every day.”
(LSi Online)

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