Local actor David Gigler died Saturday where countless Inland Northwest residents had come to know him: on stage.
Gigler, 47, collapsed from what appeared to be a heart attack during a rehearsal of the Interplayers Theatre’s “Ruthless! The Musical,” friends said. Paramedics arrived within three minutes but could not revive him.
The show was set to open on Thursday but has been canceled out of respect for Gigler, said Reed McColm, Interplayers art director and producer.
Gigler was a familiar sight on Spokane’s stages for two decades, playing roles at the Spokane Civic Theatre, the Spokane Theatrical Group and Valley Repertory Theatre. His roles ranged from Charlie Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” to would-be killer John Hinckley in Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins” in 2007.
He was equally adept at serious drama (the Holocaust drama “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” in 2003), slapstick comedy (“Escanaba in Da Moonlight” in 2010) and musical theater (“Falsettos” in 1996). He won several statewide acting awards.
One of his most memorable roles was as the Cockney father Alfred Doolittle in the Civic’s 2005 version of “My Fair Lady.” The Spokesman-Review’s critic called him “the undisputed star” of the supporting cast.
“He’s been part of the theatrical scene for forever, it seems,” McColm said Saturday.
Gigler, a Spokane native who graduated from Lewis and Clark High School, was introduced to acting as a young adult by his partner Troy Nickerson, close friend Michelle Holland said.
Holland said Gigler had “a presence and a likability” on stage.
“The moment he went on stage, you were drawn to him,” she said.
Gigler also encouraged the best from fellow actors, said George Green, executive art director at the Lake City Playhouse.
“David was always genuine as a human being,” Green said. “He’d tell you if something didn’t look right and if something was stellar. He didn’t sugarcoat anything.”
In “Ruthless!,” which Nickerson was directing, Gigler was cast as Sylvia St. Croix, a gender-bending role for which Gigler had to learn to walk in high heels, McColm said.
McColm said Gigler undertook the role with relish.
“He died doing something he loved,” McColm said.
No services have been announced.