Cathy Schutz, my dear friend, co-worker and fellow theater lover died on Saturday.
We met 10 years ago when I started as the theater critic for what was then called the Alameda Newspaper Group, which was then ANG Newspapers and is now Bay Area News Group-East Bay. She was one of my editors and the one I always wrote for. I write best when I write for a specific audience, and Cathy was my ideal audience. She loved reading about theater — and I loved delighting her. I remember I once used the word “twee” in a review, and she was so excited I wanted to use the dang word in every review. Too bad for me, not enough shows traffic in twee.
One of the many things I loved about Cathy — her sense of humor, her use of expressions such as “oh my ears and whiskers” and her unflagging support of me among them — was her dedication to her local community theater, which happened to be the Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito.
She was in shows, she produced shows, she publicized shows, she created costumes for shows, she did just about every conceivable thing for shows at this fine little theater.
In fact, just a week ago, at Cathy’s invitation, I was at the CCCT for a staged reading of a new play, Ah, Samolo!, a stage adaptation of Noel Coward’s novel Pomp and Circumstance.
In the late stages of the cancer that tried — mostly unsuccessfully — to dim her boundless enthusiasm, Cathy served as producer of this event, which was something new for the CCCT to get involved in a play at its birth.
Though weak, Cathy, who I believe was 59, made it to the theater for last weekend’s big event, which was hugely successful, and I was so pleased to get to see her in her natural habitat one last time. I didn’t know then it would be the last time, of course, and now I’m a little heartbroken that the world is minus one sweet, smiling theater lover who also happened to be a dear friend and colleague. I know it’s selfish, because Cathy meant an awful lot to just about everyone who knew her, but I can’t help wishing we’d had just one more show together.
So, Cathy, whatever opulent musical number you’re starring in now, replete with feather boas, tiaras, rhinestones and a dance solo to show off all those years of training, know that you’re still my ideal audience, and I’m going to keep writing for you.