After nearly a quarter of a century in theater management, Pat Davis is retiring. But don't expect to see her whiling away the hours rocking on her front porch or tatting doilies.
"I'm not getting wistful and I'm not wondering if I did the right thing," said Davis. "I'm feeling very good about the theater and about where we have come and knowing that it's going to be in very capable hands."Beginning June 8, Kenneth W. Plain will become executive director of Salt Lake Community College's 1,140-seat Grand Theatre, which has been managed by Davis for the past nine years.
Davis' official "swan song" will be performing in "Encore! Encore!" May 29-June 13, a musical revue touching on highlights of the Grand Theatre's many productions over the years. While Davis is on stage for several of the numbers, Plain will conduct the orchestra.
Davis has spent nearly 25 years in various facets of theater managment, including Promised Valley Playhouse and the TriadTheatre at Triad Center. Now, in retirement, she looks forward to having the time to work more on her writing.
"There are several things that I've wanted to do for years. Both Clif (her late husband, well-known scenery designer Clif Davis) and I were artists and we both studied at the Art Barn. He was by far the better, and I chose to go on to other things. But now I'm probably going to do some writing and illustrate some children's books," she said.
Davis was not involved in the college's lengthy search for her replacement, but she and Plain have worked together many times in recent years. He has contracted and managed the Grand Theatre's orchestra musicians for some time.
Plain has also conducted the pit orchestra on a number of occasions, and both Plain and Davis collaborated on the Grand's production of "Bands of Iron, Rings of Gold," a musical commissioned by Salt Lake County for Utah's statehood centennial celebration.
A Salt Lake native whose first professional work in theater was as a pianist at Theater 138 when he was 14, Plain said he is "very excited and nervous" about his new position. "I have some huge shoes to fill, but I'm looking forward to it."
At this point, he expects to make no changes from the way Davis has operated the Grand. He's particularly pleased with the current staff and for the first few weeks he'll be lining up directors for the 1998-99 season of musicals, which opens Sept. 11 with "Brigadoon" and closes next spring with "Carousel."
Davis will be directing one production, the regional premiere of "Children of Eden," March 5-20.
When he was a student at Granite High School, Plain portrayed Nicely Nicely Johnson in "Guys and Dolls" and had roles in"My Fair Lady" and "Hello, Dolly!" But it was his work with the late Ariel Baliff in 1978's "Golden Apple" at Theater 138 (when he was in junior high school) "that really got me hooked on theater," he said.
Plain is working on his master's degree in conducting at Brigham Young University and who has taught at BYU, SLCC and Weber State University.
Davis noted that the Grand Theatre began in 1989 "and Ken came to us during `The Music Man' in 1991.
"I could see the talent coming out of his ears. He's very gifted. There are only so many things that you can learn about the arts out of books. He has the gift and the training."