Last night, my dear old friend Bob Dutton died. He had been dealing with a fast-growing brain tumor and had been brought home for hospice a few days ago. This morning a group of his friends and acting colleagues, did a reading of the play he had been working on for the last couple years, The Ivory Door. It was a testament to him, to the theatre community and the power of friendships that span a lifetime of creative life and service.
Bob and I met doing a show on Martha’s Vineyard during the summer of ’82. He was the dashing, glamorous 21-year old director who cast me as the young comedic ingenue in Scanarel. We flirted our way through rehearsals and eventually graduated to him giving me a ride home to my grandparents (where I was staying that summer), every night after rehearsal. We would stop at DQ and have the same thing every night… Peanut Buster Parfait for him, and a Strawberry Shortcake for me. Soon it progressed into a lovely little love affair, which made that summer on the island, and the time I spent with him in his flat in Boston, very very special. He introduced me to so much of the musical theatre canon; to this day I keep the little mixed tapes he made for me. We were long-distance for about a year and then drifted away from the romantic relationship and into a life-long friendship built on mutual admiration, creative encouragement and history. The last time I saw him, early last summer, I got to tell him how much he has meant to me over the years, how much I valued his continued friendship, how much I wished we could figure out a project to work on together. We shared a few laughs and reminiscences, schemed about how to work together again and caught up on each other’s lives and dreams.
Most recently, he was working on editing his play, The Ivory Door, and writing a new play set in the age of Covid. When he got diagnosed a few weeks ago, it seemed so surreal. And now, it seems unfathomable. That Bob won’t be on the Vineyard when I go back to visit. That the sound of his voice and his laugh will be something I will work to keep in my mind, rather than something to take for granted. That the island and the rest of the creative world won’t have his astute observations and theatrical spark.
Bob Dutton was absolutely one of a kind. A gentle, funny, irreverent, faithful, talented, insanely intelligent man and I am so happy I got to share a bit of his life. I will miss you, Bob, but I will carry your memory with me all my days.