Prince Albert grieving ‘devastating’ and ‘shocking’ loss of actor Sheldon Bergstrom

Ian Dickson (left) and Sheldon Bergstrom (right) performing the Broadway North Theatre Company’s Fiddler on the Roof in 1999. -- Ian Dickson/Submitted

Ian Dickson never pictured living without the vibrant presence Sheldon Bergstrom brought to the room. He never anticipated that their last talk over beers, their last phone call, or their last performance together would come so soon, and without warning.

“People are grieving right now. People are shocked,” said Dickson. “It was devastating. No one is replaceable, but that’s a huge loss.”

Bergstrom was a well-known actor and singer from Prince Albert, but was based in Regina. 

He died on Sunday from health issues that arose after he broke his arm. According to a public Facebook post from his wife, Dawn, Bergstrom was walking his dog and fell down a flight of stairs.

He was 51 years old.

Actor and singer Sheldon Bergstrom died on Sunday at 51 years old. — Sheldon Bergstrom Facebook

Dickson’s memories of Bergstrom began when he was just 16 years old, while he was auditioning for his first show with the Broadway North Theatre Company.

“I already knew his name, but I’d never met him before. When he came in the room, it was a game changer. Everything shifted, everybody’s mood changed,” he recalled.

“He became a mentor for me at that age. It was a very informative and difficult time for me and I don’t know if I would have gotten through it as well if he hadn’t helped me.”

Dickson then moved to Regina for a few years, where Bergstrom was also living at the time. Being the first time he lived away from Prince Albert, Bergstrom gave him a sense of home.

He always made himself available to talk, said Dickson, even when you didn’t know you needed it.

“The first thing that comes to mind every time I think of him is him smiling at you with very kind eyes. He always just was able to know what was going on with somebody. I would hear from him at the most random times, and it was always when I needed to hear from him.”

Bergstrom was cast for the lead role in Factory Theatre’s musical about Rob Ford. He also appeared in musicals such as Seussical, Hairspray and Oliver. His TV appearances include Corner Gas and InSecurity.

Bergstrom also frequently appeared on TeleMiracle. 

In a statement, national cast member Brad Johner described him as “very humble and didn’t know how talented he was.” Another long-time cast member, Beverley Mahood, said he “had a way of disarming people and making them laugh.”

Malcolm Jenkins was there for the beginning of Bergstrom’s career as a founding member of Broadway North. Bergstrom starred in the theatre company’s first ever show, West Side Story.

“It was just like going away to camp. We were all like giant kids, we had an amazing time,” said Jenkins.

He recalled having the picture-perfect scene for the production – with smashed walls plastered with paint and barbed wire throughout to depict the gang rivalry.

Jenkins remembered Bergstrom’s capturing voice. Although he didn’t have many opportunities in West Side Story, “he stole the show” in the one moment he got to sing.

A few years later, he played the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, alongside Dickson.

The E.A. Rawlinson Centre lowered its flags to half mast to remember Sheldon Bergstrom. — E.A. Rawlinson Centre/Facebook

“He was the sort of guy that in five minutes, you were best friends and he never forgot you,” said Jenkins.

“It’s very overwhelming to know that he went at such an early age.”

Flags in front of the E.A. Rawlinson Centre were lowered to half mast to remember Bergstrom. Just two weeks ago, Bergstrom posted a photo of the Rawlinson, saying he was “back at his old stomping grounds.”

“Well, good friend, your old stomping grounds are going to remember you for a long, long time to come,” reads a Facebook post on the Rawlinson’s page.

“There’s a Sheldon Bergstrom-shaped gap in our community.”