PHANTOM

Westport Magazine

June 2003

Dodie and Kevin "A Dramatic Start "

Plenty of couples meet at work and fall into an office romance. But for Kevin Gray and Dodie Pettit, “meeting at work,” meant the backstage of The Phantom of the Opera, during the second year of its run in 1989. “ I was the new guy playing Raoul and felt a little but like an outsider,” recalls Kevin, a Westport native who started his career on stage as a Staples Player.

While rehearsing choreography, Kevin heard and odd thumping noise, looked up and saw an “Orange haired, purple denimed woman,” he says. It was Dodie Pettit a vocalist and corps de ballet dancer who was returning in a cast after foot surgery to fill in as a singer. “ I had a really extraordinary moment. I felt this powerful connection. I knew immediately,” says Kevin, who was recently divorced at the time. “ I didn’t even know her name.”

Powerful connection or not Dodie wasn’t biting. Kevin didn’t five up easily- he asked her out “every other day for six weeks.” without success. Backstage during a performance one evening, Kevin told her they needed to talk. He requested that she come to his dressing room after the show. Responding to her knock at his door, Kevin said, “ I’m not going to ask you out anymore. But I’ve got to tell you, I’m pretty certain we’re going to spend our lover together.” Then he kissed her and shut the door.

Looking back Dodie admits that she too, had a strong emotional response to Kevin as soon as she laid eyes on him, but she blocked it and remained in denial even at the risk of losing him. “ He was open to the feeling and I was not,” she says now. “ I was afraid of it.

Part of her reluctance stemmed from a previous backstage romance that played out poorly. “The gossip in our industry is not to be believed,” she explains.

Finally, not-so-gentle pressure from a friend helped. Her friend asked, “What are you, stupid?” So after some thought the tables turned and Dodie asked out Kevin. Within months, “we felt as if we were married,” says Dodie, despite their crazy life as touring performers, traveling together and apart for roles in Phantom (Kevin eventually played the lead role), The King and I, Titanic, Jesus Christ Superstar and Miss Saigon, to name just a few.

Dodie and Kevin, whose family has lived in Westport for generations, bought the Gray family home and some five years after they met, were married. These days, the couple looks forward to producing their first musical. Called Dracula: The Covenant, it will debut this summer at the Stonington Opera House in Stonington, Maine. They will also be sharing the stage this summer in A Chorus Line at the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven Hew Jersey.