William Koseluk’s history with one musical brings back Santa Barbara memories

Lea Schultz and David Gaertig
Lea Schultz and David Gaertig

When William Koseluk walked into the Village Country Club in Lompoc eight years ago, he immediately had a thought.

“I Do! I Do! This needs to be done in this space.”

This year, the musical director gets his wish, as 1966’s “I Do! I Do!” comes to Lompoc Civic Theatre, the city’s first musical in town since 2012’s “Tick, Tick . . . BOOM!” Directed by Marian C. Stave and Patricia Roby, the play stars Lea Schultz and David Gaertig as a married couple who evolve over time, from wedding night to growing old and moving on. Written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, the creators behind the hit “The Fantasticks,” it features charming songs like “My Cup Runneth Over with Love,” “The Father of the Bride” and the title song.

The original production starred Robert Preston and Mary Martin, a production that Mr. Koseluk remembers nearly seeing when it came to Denver. His parents took the family to the city, but left him and his siblings in their hotel room, while they went to the theater. Maybe that’s why Mr. Koseluk loves the play — that initial sense of denial? “I’ve been rubbing shoulders with the play for years, so to speak,” he says.

The next time musical and Mr. Koseluk met was 1981. He was finishing up a master’s degree in music at UCSB, and was hired by Le Petit Cabaret to play piano for their upcoming production. Older Santa Barbarans will remember Le Petit Cabaret as the small theater on the Mesa that operated from 1976 to 1985. The director of that production was Julie McLeod, who is currently director at Art Without Limits.

“There’s a sense of nostalgia involved, I admit,” Mr. Koseluk says. “I don’t save everything, but I did get out my old planner book during that time. On the day we finally closed, I wrote, ‘Hooray!’ ” Back then we were doing four shows a week for seven weeks. You could never do that today — there was much more demand.”

“What I remember and what I’ve forgotten about that 1981 show is amazing,” Mr. Koseluk continues. “There are a couple of lines that for no particular reason that stick in my head. There’s a line about reaching for my checkbook that pops into my head every time I reach for my checkbook! But I also had to admit I had no recollection of any dancing anywhere in the show, and I know there had to have been, but that element I can’t remember. I forgot that the actors have to costume change and apply aging makeup in front of the audience and you’d think I’d remember something like that.”

The musical was revived in 1996 on Off-Broadway. That revival changed the higher musical key from the original; it was rewritten for the low registers of both Mr. Preston and Ms. Martin.

Actor David Gaertig currently sings in a rock band and appeared in Lompoc Civic Theatre’s “Clutter,” while Lea Schultz debuted last year in Lompoc Civic Theatre’s production of “Miracle on South Division Street.” For the two directors, this is their first musical, so Mr. Koseluk, who currently teaches at UCSB, has stepped in when needed.

“Usually directors of musicals tell the musical director what to do but in this instance it’s been more mutual,” he says. “There’s been no problems with territory.”

This production is an intimate, dinner-theater affair, with a full meal catered by Sage Restaurant and Bar overseen by executive chef Christopher Jones. Perhaps there will be more such dinner-and-a-show events in the future, and Mr. Koseluk mentions the loss of Circle Bar B.

“After they wrapped last year, this might be the place to go,” he says.

“I Do! I Do!”
When: 7:30 p.m. every other Saturday through June 6, starting this Saturday (6:30 p.m. dinner)
Where: Village Country Club, 4300 Clubhouse Rd., Lompoc
Cost: $40
Information: (805) 735-2281

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