Synopsis of “Jilted to Perfection”
Debra, a shamed and divorced Mormon mother, recounts her botched and consequential Metropolitan Opera audition, and introduces her first sight of a strange and older man, Fred, who seems to know her already. Both working as extras in an opera, Fred claims that Debra is his “true wife,” and pursues her despite her fears, her missed dates, and her biases. He steals a kiss that is like no other, and Debra’s passion fights with practicality. Jilted, he reacts with a vow to celibacy in a Scientology order and moves to LA ,as Debra, uninformed, proclaims her love. After getting routed out of the Sea Org by his third wife’s protestations, Fred writes Debra, and the long distance affair leads to marriage. Time passes and Debra is overcome by the set-backs & hardships of “living the dream,” and by Fred’s declining health and demeanor. They continue to re-boot their family and career in moves to LA and Utah, where Debra’s son, Aaron, is at the effect of their calamitous search to make their “Mission” as artists viable. She cannot identify the underpinning that keeps her in the relationship, but Fred’s gravity as a seeker wins out. He becomes a healthy & cherished mentor, father educator, and philosopher. Their love matures and deepens, yet Fred passes unexpectedly while Debra is away. She questions if she can grow through the adversity of loosing her soul-mate, but is comforted by her own mother’s unique perspective of Fred’s perfection. 5 year old Granddaughter McKinslee sings an Alleluia celebrating Grandpa Fred’s searching questions.
Commentary of the “Jilted to Perfection” Story
This story really happened. It is based on the 23 year challenging love affair of two artists, Fred and Debra Cook, and their unlikely pairing. Debra is a shamed and recently divorced Mormon mother of two children fleeing from Utah to New York, without alimony nor child support, hoping to expand upon a career as an opera singer. Fred much older, an almost destitute actor/director,just finishing his 4th marriage, with 4 children, and a high-ranking Scientologist. After Debra flubbs a rare Metropolitan Opera Audition, they meet at New York City Opera as “Supernumeraries.” Fred was there because an actress quit one of his plays for more money to act in Carmen, and Fred was fascinated by the novelty of being in an opera. Debra deigned to be an “actor” in the production because her son had a paid position in the Children’s’ Chorus. So, Fred was cast as the Priest and Debra as the Nun. She had been admonished by clergy to date only Mormons, and well-to-do ones at that. Yet, Fred’s immediate proclamation that Debra was his “true wife” precipitated her reaction to repel him, albeit there was an inexplicable gravity pulling her towards him. He said, “Well, if I can’t be with my true wife, then I’ll be an ascetic and join the Sea Org.” Their recruiters promised him a post making movies for the Church. His time in the Sea Org was a debacle, and his third wife, also a Sea Org Scientologist, got him routed out, and Fred was soon writing Cyrano-esque letters to Debra from across the country. His unflappable spirit and inspirations led the family through a series of misadventures, including an unpopular marriage, Hollywood rip-off artists, 4 of 6 kids with addiction issues, failed business schemes, and a move to Park City, where a fledgling music store and school eventually became a local legacy. When Fred suddenly passed away, even the funeral director said his service was the greatest show he had ever seen, and Fred’s professed love story with Debra, his heuristic teaching and philosophy, and his unconditional love for everyone, became part of the local folklore. Fred was the unseen consultant in the 4 years that Debra worked on the Sleepy Hollow Musical’s creative team, and he became not only her mentor and greatest fan, but the reason that she and her family press on as artist/educators in a sea of disillusioned cynics. He left them a legacy to build upon as they celebrate taking risks and learning from their experience.
Video of “Mini” version of Jilted to Perfection performed at the 2018 New York New Works Theatre Festival at the Acorn on Theatre Row, NYC: