Reuben Mitchell, a fine, young talent, gone far too soon

Just saw the sad news today that Reuben Mitchell, a young actor who was making a mark on the local theater scene, has died from injuries he got in a motorcycle accident Monday in West Philadelphia.

Mitchell, 31, was riding his bike when a driver made a U-turn and hit him.

That’s what accidents are, the downstream effects of momentary lapses in judgment and attention.

And such lapses take lives every day, but when it’s a life you were connected to, however remotely, it just makes you pound your fist on the table in frustration.

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It also leads you to vow never to text or otherwise distract yourself while driving. Don’t know if that’s what happened here, but we all see drivers every day doing stuff with their damn phones that could cause serious crashes. Hell, I was guilty of such self-distraction just this morning.  It … is … just … not … worth it.

Reuben Mitchell, since arriving in Philadephia two years ago, had become part of the 1812 Productions comedy troupe. 1812 is a partner with us here at WHYY and NewsWorks; we love their brand of political humor, as displayed each fall in their This Is the Week That Is production of sketch comedy. We air versions of some of 1812’s funnier skits on NewsWorks Tonight.

Reuben had a huge role in this year’s This Is the Week That Is. He had honed an impression of President Obama that was as funny and spot-on as I’ve seen anywhere, including Saturday Night Live. I saw him perform in the Nov. 3 production, which I guess turned out to be the second-last turn on stage of his life.

In that show, he was brilliant, not just as Obama but also in a very high-concept riff as a black intellectual turned TV weatherman.

I know the folks at 1812 and elsewhere in the Philly theater community who worked with this young man are devastated. The best wishes and prayers of the NewsWorks community are with them and his family. 

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