By Lynn Timmons Edwards
I met Christy Welty in the summer of 1977. She was starring in Oh Coward at the A.S.U. Lyric Opera Theatre with other well-known Valley singer-actors of the time. I was the stage manager and then wife of the director. When we learned that Christy and her husband John both played bridge, a long-term friendship began. The men fermented mincemeat in the closet on Thanksgiving weekend in preparation for the annual holiday cookie baking marathon. Christy straddled the world of opera, musical theater and domestic goddess. We traveled together to New York City in 1980 where Christy learned from Colleen Dewhurst that “the director’s job is to take the actor to the edge; but keep them from falling off”; a quote she has repeated often to me.
Although she was featured in many, many shows that I saw over the years I most remember a moment in Puccini’s Suor Angelica where our rather edgy director had her lying flat on her back, her soprano voice soaring over the audience much like the angel-like character she portrayed. My position with the Arizona Commission on the Arts allowed me to encourage the formation of Christy and Company; a trio that toured for many years bringing opera and musical theater to communities throughout rural Arizona.
Her family commitments took her to the East coast for 20 years. She sang, she taught, she rolled up her sleeves and took board leadership of a nonprofit professional chorus. She gardened, she played tennis. Tragically she became a widow at much too young an age.
Her return to Arizona was Long Island’s loss and the Theatre Artists Studio’s gain. She came back a more gifted voice teacher, polished pianist and with renewed energy to record and perform. I had the joy of touring with her this past year in 16 Bars Cabaret and learning from her Studio voice classes co-taught with Joe Bousard. She joined with long-time friend and colleague, Jill Higgins, to direct the world premiere of Babe, An Olympian Musical in 2012. Who knows what lies around the next corner; but it is sure to have Christy’s signature class and caliber.