Reuben Mitchell, 31, a rising actor with a comedic flair who found a home in Philadelphia theater circles, died Monday, Nov. 12, from injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident in West Philadelphia.
Mr. Mitchell, a native of North Carolina, had been living in Philadelphia, his father's hometown, for the last two years pursuing a career on the stage.
According to police, Mr. Mitchell was riding his motorcycle in the 3900 block of Woodland Avenue in West Philadelphia about 7:15 a.m. Monday when a car made a u-turn, causing his motorcycle to strike it.
He was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was pronounced dead that evening, police said. No charges have been filed.
Friends and associates in the theater community said Mr. Mitchell possessed great talent and was making his mark in the Philadelphia area.
He had worked in shows with 1812 Productions, a comedy theater group; Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre; Theatre Exile, and South Camden Theatre Company, and at the National Constitution Center.
Reuben Tavon Mitchell was born on March 18, 1981, in Greenville, N.C., the son of Wayne and Bettie Mitchell.
Mr. Mitchell showed an interest in theater while in elementary school.
"He started emceeing little shows in elementary school, and he just always wanted to do that," his mother said. "Thankfully, he got to live his dream."
In 2003, Mr. Mitchell graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor's degree in theater arts.
He received a master's degree in the professional actor training program at Louisiana State University in 2007. He also attended a graduate program in voice and speech training at York University in Toronto.
Mr. Mitchell moved to Philadelphia in 2010.
He performed in various theater productions in the region. Most recently he was in This Is the Week That Is, an annual political comedy at Plays and Players Theatre.
Liz Firios, a friend and fellow actor, said Mr. Mitchell, a tall and lean man, portrayed President Obama. In the final performance on Nov. 4, his closing comment was: "Now you all go out and vote, so I will have a job next year."
Jennifer Childs, artistic director at 1812 Productions, said Mr. Mitchell nailed the role.
"Obama is a tough character to portray. ... Reuben had his movements down and his speech pattern down, and he made a character out of Obama's awkward pauses," Childs said.
James Ijames, a friend in Philadelphia, a fellow actor and a classmate from Morehouse, praised Mr. Mitchell's talent.
"Reuben had a level of passion about the art of making theater that I have very rarely come into contact with among people my age," Ijames said. "He is by far one of the most talented comic actors I have ever encountered in my life."
He said Mr. Mitchell also liked cars and motorcycles, and had a passion for music, especially hip hop and jazz.
Bettie Mitchell said her son "never met a person he didn't like. Reuben was a trusting individual. He believed in the good in everybody."
In addition to his parents, Mr. Mitchell is survived by a brother, Rahsan.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, 35 W. Chelten Ave.