Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Student Prince

James Melton and co-star Barbara Meister

In the summer of 1960, mostly because he needed the money, my father signed to do a traveling summer stock production of Sigmund Romberg’s The Student Prince. He sang seven shows a week for seven weeks. A killing pace when he was in his late fifties and in poor health.  He was cast as Dr. Engel, the tutor of the student prince, but the role was expanded to have him sing several duets and trios (with the prince and his lady love) so as to take advantage of his celebrity.

Recently I was contacted by Chic Silber, who was a stagehand on those shows in 1960!

Here’s what he wrote:

The summer of 1960 when I worked for Guber Ford & Gross for their chain of tented theaters was just prior to my starting an apprenticeship in the stagehands union (IATSE)

During rehearsals for The Student Prince I met your father and instantly became in awe of him and his presence. For some reason he encouraged an acquaintanceship. During a discussion of his bringing the Winton "General" [ Ed. note:1917 Winton housecar, see my blog post of 11/1/09] on the tour of the show for publicity. Somehow it became clear that I was both eager & capable of driving it. He entrusted me to drive it
from tent to tent during the run of the show.

Chic, by the way, went on to fame and fortune as a theater engineer, creating special effects and props for circuses here and abroad, and Broadway productions (like Wicked and Dracula and Amadeus).  I'm delighted to have made his acquaintance fifty-two years later!

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