This morning I had a brief exchange on Facebook with Mary, a woman I knew years and years ago when we first moved to Davis. The exchange happened because I posted a link to a review of the upcoming Lamplighters production of Iolanthe, my favorite Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. I made a remark about how it was Iolanthe that made me fall in love with Gilbert and Sullivan.
Mary remembered that a Lamplighters production of Iolanthe was the first Gilbert & Sullivan she had ever seen with her friend, Vicki.
That opened the floodgates, remembering the days of the Davis Comic Opera Company and our 25+ years involvement with that company.
When we knew that Walt's office was being transferred to Davis, a town we had never visited before, we started subscribing to The Davis Enterprise about six months before the move, and that was how we learned that a new group, the Davis Comic Opera Company was about to form.
We had, by that time, become loyal followers of The Lamplighters and the thought that there was a G&S company that was at its very beginning in the town where we were going to move was very exciting. We missed their first production, but were there when they announced their second production H.M.S. Pinafore.
I thought it would be fun to maybe help with publicity. I called the contact number for the show. It turned out to be the phone number of the director, Bob Cello, a veterinarian, who did G&S on the side. (Parenthetically, Bob did the. very. best. Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof that I have ever seen, including big names in that role.) I spoke with his wife and told her I was interested in helping with publicity. She told me I should speak to Bob at the auditions.
So I went off to the high school auditorium and sat there while people began to audition. When I walked in, I was given papers to fill out, which I did. I saw with a lovely woman who was auditioning and we whispered together. I told her I was just there to see about helping with publicity.
I watched these marvelous actors get up and perform their numbers, including Mary, who became DCOC's leading contralto over the coming years. They all gave their sheet music to Bob at the piano and told him which key they wanted to sing in.
Then the unbelievable happened. He called me to the piano to audition. I decided that maybe everyone involved in the company had to sing. I was too embarrassed to do much but get up and choose a song. I had always sung choruses in public (that's mad enough, I think), and I knew I didn't have a particularly good voice, but I was fairly sure I could stumble through Buttercup's song and sang it, without preparation, terrified, in a wobbling voice. Mercifully, nobody laughed, but I can just imagine what all of those real singers were thinking.
I never did get the chance to talk with Bob that night and went home deciding it had all been a bad idea.
A week later, Bob called me and in a very gentle voice he told me that I had not made it into the cast. Well, I already knew that! I laughed and told him that I never had any desire to be in the cast at all, and that I just wanted to help with publicity. I instantly became the DCOC publicist, a role I played for most of the 30 year history of that group.
Walt eventually joined the tech crew and worked on that crew for the rest of the life of the Davis Comic Opera Company.
The DCOC people became our "group" in town and to this day, though DCOC ceased to exist many years ago, our closest friends in town were all connected with the company. And it all began with my ill-fated audition.