Family ties

Davis Musical Theatre Company really takes its work home

Professor Henry Higgins (Steve Isaacson) reads to Eliza Doolittle (Lauren Miller) in Davis Musical Theatre Company’s <i>My Fair Lady</i>.

Professor Henry Higgins (Steve Isaacson) reads to Eliza Doolittle (Lauren Miller) in Davis Musical Theatre Company’s My Fair Lady.



Lauren Miller screams the line in a cockney Eliza Doolittle accent as a row of fellow actors and extras feign being offended. But Steve Isaacson cannot hold it in any longer.

“BWAAAA-HAAAAH-HAAAAAH!!!” Isaacson blurts out from behind his fellow cast members.

It’s 10 days before the February 22 opening of Davis Musical Theatre Company’s production of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady at the Hoblit Performing Arts Center. Isaacson will have to learn to control his outbursts very quickly if he is to nail his lead role as Professor Henry Higgins.

It should not be a problem for the veteran community-theater impresario, who co-owns Davis Musical Theatre Company with his wife and My Fair Lady‘s director Jan Isaacson and has starred in so many shows over the years, it’d fill the rest of this space just to list them all.

Spending time with the Isaacsons, Miller and the rest of the cast and crew, you get the feeling you are with a family more than a local theater troupe. Perhaps that is due to the family ties on and off stage.

Of course, there are the Isaacsons. Jan says the couple devotes so many hours to DMTC for the same reason everyone else at rehearsals does: “We all do it for the love of it.”

Miller is married to cast member Mike McElroy; in fact, they first met when DMTC mounted The Music Man in 2003. They started going out about a year later and married a year after that.

“We’ve done a few shows apart,” says McElroy. “That’s not fun.”

“The best part is we get to be together for rehearsal time,” added Miller.

But it means when they get home, most discussions center on their shows.

“It’s kinda sad; that’s all we talk about,” Miller said with a laugh.

The couple are but young pups compared to Rich and Julie Kulmann, who stand beside one another in the My Fair Lady chorus. The Kulmanns, who have been with the company 20 years, have two children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Julie could have been speaking for any of the coupled players as she noted, “If it weren’t for the shows, we would not have seen each other much.”

Herb Schultz, who plays Higgins’ bumbling friend Colonel Pickering (see “The political stage,” SN&R Arts&Culture, February 21) and his partner of nine years, Stuart Leviton, are DMTC benefactors. A veteran comedic actor in several DMTC musicals, he auditioned for both the Higgins and Pickering parts and got call backs for both. He believes his reading of Pickering’s funniest scenes got him the supporting part.

“For some reason, I went into full comic mode,” Schultz said. “I did it in a way I called Dr. Bombay of Bewitched meets Sir Evelyn from Anything Goes. Everyone was in stitches.”

His performance will be aided by lightened hair, heavy makeup and the costumes picked out for him by Jean Henderson, who has been DMTC’s costumer for 18 years. She came to the company first to try out for the chorus in Brigadoon. When it was discovered she knew how to sew, a new volunteer career in community theater was born. She works during lunch hours and pretty much holes up in her impressively arranged clothing floor during the run of rehearsals and shows.

“It’s like playing Barbie dolls with real people,” she says of her role with the troupe. Her long association with DMTC has led to networking with costumers from other companies. That led Henderson to a discovery. “We’re all in it for the same reason,” she said. “We love community theater.”

She particularly loves the DMTC because, you guessed it, “this is like a family.”