Indianola singer ‘larger-than-life’
Greenwood Little Theatre and Greenwood actors and musicians have lost a dear friend in John Brindley of Indianola, who passed away Sept. 8 at the age of 70.
Mr. Brindley’s memorial service was held in Indianola on Tuesday.
His last stage performance was on July 30 in Greenwood at the Greenwood Little Theatre’s 60th Anniversary Gala. Mr. Brindley performed “The Impossible Dream” from the musical play “Man of La Mancha,” in which he starred twice at GLT — first in 1976 and again in 1997.
In Indianola, Mr. Brindley was a founder and longtime musical director at Mid-Delta Arts Association.
“He was a larger-than-life guy,” said Greenwood pharmacist Eddie Amelung, who knew Mr. Brindley in the theater and as a travel partner. “I think his great gift was that he could see the good in folks, especially where their talent was concerned.”
Amelung recalled Mr. Brindley’s starring role in “Man of La Mancha,” and a series of Broadway musical reviews Mr. Brindley participated in at GLT in the mid-1980s.
“It was a joint production with the Indianola theater, and we performed it both there and here,” said Amelung. The show was made up of musical numbers from Broadway shows and played at New Stage in Jackson as well.
Local vocal instructor and singer-actor Cheryl Weiss also fondly remembered working with Mr. Brindley.
Mr. Brindley was musical director for the Indianola production of “Fiddler on the Roof” that she and husband John Weiss, choir director at Mississippi Valley State University, co-starred in.
“He was going to direct John and me in ‘On Golden Pond’ in Indianola this season,” Weiss said. The Weisses planned to reprise the lead roles they played in the Greenwood Little Theatre production of that play in April.
“He was just a delight,” Weiss said. “We became good colleagues.”
Weiss remembered Mr. Brindley for his “gorgeous voice” and for the way he was upheld in the theater community, both in Indianola and in Greenwood.
“He wasn’t just revered; he was beloved,” she said. “He always put service ahead of ego and others ahead of himself.”
Mr. Brindley, a Memphis native, is survived by his wife, Mary Ruth, as well as two children and four grandchildren. An accomplished musician, he was music director for First Methodist Church in Indianola. He held degrees in music education and vocal pedagogy, which he put to extensive use in his theatrical career, working with both experienced and budding musical performers across the Delta.
He came to Indianola in 1973 to manage the local Sears store and, according to Amelung, worked at Greenwood’s Sears as well during his time with the company.
Amelung said that Mr. Brindley was already becoming ill when he performed at the GLT Gala in July, but he was pleased to perform.
“I told him, ‘I know you’re coming from far away, but I’d really like you and “The Impossible Dream” to be the finale,’” Amelung said.
“It was the perfect finale.”