Every story has multiple sides. Here is how things played out for Shelly.
It was all a pretty ordinary run up to performance—only seeing Roy for a few minutes in the mornings, 1 weeknight a week, and some small part of the weekend for weeks on end—until the fateful Friday he called me at work to say he'd been moved to the role of Harold.
"What?!?!?!" was my initial reaction. "You're kidding! The show opens in SIX days!" Then, I moved into the "efficient" mode, calming him down, telling him I'd take care of notifying his parents and our friends, telling him to get to the theater and start working on whatever.
Then, I began to weave an intricate web of surprises (I'm good at it). I called his mom with the news and said that they ought to come down, that there was only one "first leading role". I also knew that having his brother, Del, see him would mean a lot, but with Del in the military, the chance of leave being granted on such short notice was a little slim. But asking quietly was well worth a shot.
However, complicating family travel arrangements for the musical was our niece's upcoming wedding in NC the very next weekend after the show closed, a wedding we'd all be attending in one capacity or another!
By Saturday morning, I'd realized that the most efficient thing for me to do was to get Roy's folks a flight out of OKC and fly them down for a long weekend, Fri-Mon, putting them up at the same Marriott Residence Inn in West University as I had in 2006 when his parents and Del & wife Cyndi had come to see him as Motel in Fiddler on the Roof. I researched tickets, asked Roy if it was okay, and called Mom. Arrangements for guest group #1 now finished.
Meanwhile, Del & Cyndi & I conversed secretly via my work e-mail. I knew Cyndi wouldn't be able to make it (after all, it was her daughter getting married in NC!), and, for Del, everything hinged on his leave being granted.
The theater had a fund-raiser where donors could sponsor a star for their favorite actor/actress. I had intended to do one, but hadn't gotten around to it. Early the next week, the person in charge of the stars sent out a note to the cast that it wasn't too late to sponsor some. I figured the leading man deserved some recognition, so I called his folks, his aunt & uncle, his brother, his employer, and a friend of mine. With their help, I came up with 6 stars (Bluware sent theirs in on their own, which I didn't see til we took them down closing night).
Somewhere in the haze of the week leading up to Opening Night, I had our friend, Joe White, secretly get me a ticket to Opening Night. Roy had said he didn't want me there as he was afraid of how bad it might be, but I wanted to surprise him. A coworker of mine is into scrapbooking, so I asked her to make a dressing room star for Roy—little did I know that with a cast of 50+, there was no dressing room for the leading man!
The morning before Opening Night, we called our dear friend in Goliad, Bettelou, and shared the news with her. Later that day, she contacted me at work and asked that I present Roy with 3 long-stemmed callas on Opening Night along with whatever I'd be presenting him. Ahem. I'd thought about getting flowers for O.N., but with everything going on, had blown them off as too much trouble. Now, they were back in the mix, too.
Late one night during opening week, the phone rang; it was Roy's aunt & uncle in Kansas. They were coming to town to visit their son & family in League City, and wondered whether they would be able to see the show. Sure! But could we keep it a surprise? Yes, it turns out we could indeed. They saw the show on the first Saturday and surprised Roy afterwards. They had the distinction of being the first of many surprise guests.
Other surprises? A situation had developed at my work that would require me to travel unexpectedly. I found out on Opening Day (then kept quiet about it until Saturday morning) that I would leave on Sunday for Birmingham, AL, and be gone the entire week, arriving back in Houston the night that Mom & Dad would be flying in —to Houston's other airport! I enlisted the help of my friend, Denisa, to pick up the folks.
Meanwhile, Del's leave got approved! He'd fly his personal plane to Houston for the second weekend run, then on to OK to take care of personal business. The question was, could we keep it a secret until the day of his arrival? And, yes, we did it!