I'VE BEEN AT THIS TOO LONG
4 May 2005
I was downtown at the Varsity Theatre for the first dress rehearsal of Davis Musical Theatre's Man of La Mancha last night. It was mostly a run-through, but with a delayed start while people were getting into costume, and stops of the action while lights levels were set, scenery moved into the proper place within the area of light, etc.
I chatted a bit with the producer of the show, and listened to his aches and pains (I spared him mine), we both complained about the difficulties of growing older. We are both much older, greyer, and fatter than when we first met, over 25 years ago.
I couldn't help but think how very long my history is with theatre in Davis.
The Davis Musical Theatre Company is in its 20th season here in town. I remember before it existed, when its founders were involved in other groups around town and when our own kids were little and their paths crossed often.
I often wonder what it must have felt like to discover that the kid who you cast as young Winthrop in The Music Man is now the guy who runs the theatre in which you are going to present more shows. Paul's history with DMTC was a very long one.
Walt was their first technical director, for a couple of years, when they were in a warehouse by the railroad tracks, before they moved to The Varsity. They still use the chair he made for Sweeny Todd.
If our history with DMTC is a long one, our history with the Davis Comic Opera Company is even longer. Now in its 30th season, DCOC had just performed its very first production when we moved to Davis. Hoping to find a Gilbert & Sullivan "home" here, because we were leaving The Lamplighters in San Francisco (or so we thought--silly us!), we decided to become involved with DCOC.
After being rejected for the chorus (I was so relieved!), I volunteered to do publicity, a job I did for several years. Walt got involved in set building decades ago and is still doing it. I don't do publicity any more, but have collaborated on writing a couple of shows with Stephen Peithman (one of which won a local award), and may be working on another one in the foreseeable future. We've both served terms on the Board of Directors. We've seen kids who were tiny tots when we arived in Davis move through the ranks and become some of today's "veteran performers" of the company. We've watched some go on to become professionals.
The Veterans Memorial Theatre was not built when we moved here, and yet it seems to have been an integral part of our history forever. The Sunshine Children's Theatre was born there. Most of the kids worked there, off and on (Ned still does on Sundays). Lawsuit rehearsed there. We saw many plays and musical performances by many, many groups with which our kids were involved there. Paul and Audra were married there. We celebrated Walt's 50th birthday there. David's memorial service was there. (Paul's would have been too, but it was being rennovated at the time.) Now memorial trees for both of the boys are planted out in front of the building.
The Varsity Theatre, the temporary home of the Davis Musical Theatre Company, was a movie house when we moved here. We watched it be converted into a legitimate theatre. Jeri was its first manager, and when she left the job, Paul took it over and held the job until he died. He was replaced by Ned's best friend, who finally retired on May 1 of this year to take on the job of technical instructor at the high school. (I remember when he was a drop-out kid who didn't seem to be able to find any direction in his life!)
We were around for the first production of The Davis Children's Nutcracker, now in its 28th year. We saw the rise and demise of The Davis Players and a few other theatre companies.
So as I sat there waiting for a rehearsal to begin (I'm writing a feature article for the newspaper), I looked around the theatre that both Jeri and Paul had managed, watching the guy who cast them in shows when they were still young kids (Paul as Winthrop, Jeri as Amarylis in Music Man) and I just couldn't help but get all nostalgic for the many, many, many years (that's one "many" for each 10 years) that theatre in this town has been an integral part of our lives.
It's been a long and interesting ride.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Ashley sent me pictures of Demetrius and Hamlet, taken yesterday.