Alice Court: One foot in business, the other on the stage …

November 12, 2021
By T Michele Walker

While most college kids were out there slinging hash, waiting tables or working on campus to make ends meet, island resident Alice Court took the bull by the horns. A vocal opera major in college, she had a revelation. 

“I realized that opera jobs, particularly jobs for Sopranos, are few and far between. Not knowing that this was an audacious move, I made four puppets and wrote a children’s show. I recorded it on the university AV system and created a character called Madame Olivetti Rigoletti who is a retired opera star and sent my children’s show to five stations, and one of them bought it.”

The show was called the Cabot Cove Club and even though it no longer exists, the show put Alice through school, allowing her to earn her MBA and taught her some important lessons. 

“I did it for two years and then they sold the show to some other stations, but my salary did not change. I went ‘Huh? What’s the part of this equation that I don’t understand?’ So I went back for my MBA.”

The Cabot Cove Club fit perfectly into Alice’s school schedule. “I would write the show on Tuesday and tape the show on Sunday, and then off to class the rest of the time.” 

Madame Olivetti Rigoletti would come out in a long sequined dress and would manage, in the spectacle and fun, to teach a serious music lesson. It was the ending that was a hoot. 

“At the end, I’d say, ‘Excuse me, I must spray my voice,’ and I’d spray my throat and then I’d sing a scale and hold the top note. The cameraman had a BB gun and he’d aim it at a piece of glass or a vase behind me, and I’d literally shatter glass at the top note.”

The show certainly lived on far past Alice’s college years. “When we went down to visit my mom years later, my middle child Brendan was five and he was watching TV on Saturday morning. This was about 1995 and this would have been several years after the show. He came running in and said, ‘Mom! Mom! You won’t believe this. I saw someone on television, and she looks so much like you, but she’s so much younger and prettier.’” Alice laughed at the recollection.

It’s a unique combination of artistry and the business that Alice Court now brings to the table as Royal Palm Players’ newest president. Alice has nothing but gratitude for the presidents who have come before her. “There would not be a Royal Palm Players if it wasn’t for Erica Ress Martin and all of the other presidents. She is a phenomenal person and each one of the presidents has been phenomenal. Each one brought a little something different to the organization and I hope that what I may bring to Royal Palm Players is the business organization.”

The first show Alice did with Royal Palm Players was six years ago. 

“It was the first time I sang in 30 years except for lullabies to my children, but it was so much fun,” she said. “The Royal Palm Players community and family is the hardest working, most committed but the most fun community that I have been involved. I also want to add that some of the best parties I’ve attended have been cast parties.”

RPP is kicking off its 2021 season with “Inherit the Wind” and Alice has a feeling the celebration with be something special. “I can tell you that this coming Sunday on November 14, the cast party for ‘Inherit the Wind’ is going to be the best party on the island. I understand there will be a special ‘Inherit the Wind’ drink that’s going to be created. I don’t know what that is, but it’ll be good.”

Alice was born and raised in Moncton, New Brunswick Canada and earned her Bachelor of Music degree in opera at Mount Allison University. “From there I went to Procter and Gamble in their brand management department, and I spent the rest of my business career. I didn’t go back to music, however, I continued to do the children’s show. That’s how I paid my way through my MBA at Saint Mary’s University.”

Proctor and Gamble provided Alice with more than a career. “When I joined Procter and Gamble in the human resources office, another guy was starting on the same day with the same job. His name was David Court.”

Married three years after they met, David went to Harvard to earn his MBA. 

“I went down in between his first and second year and I worked as a case writer for their business school, which again was so much fun,” Alice said. “When I married David, I married him for the laughter and the spontaneity and the love. We learned along the way that we make a good team.”

Alice and David have three children and two grandchildren. Colin, their eldest, is a surgical oncologist at Memorial Sloane Kettering in New York. He lives in Manhattan with his wife Kelly, a fashion designer, and children Theo, six, and Millie five. Abby, their youngest, lives in Toronto and is a corporate lawyer with Norton Rose Fulbright.  

Alice and David lost their wonderful middle son Brendan in a car accident when he was 17 years old.  

“We miss him every day, but we feel blessed that this funny, extroverted, and amazing person was part of our lives for 17 years,” said Alice.

A more recent addition to the Court family is Maggie. Part old English sheepdog and part poodle, Maggie is an old soul and true friend to Alice. “I’ll go down to walk Maggie on the beach and she always has to have me in her sight. She’s not aggressive in the least, she just needs to know where I am and that she’s in charge of me,” Alice said with a laugh.

From England to Australia to Dallas, Texas, the Court family has lived around the world. In 1996 they went to Dallas, and they stayed for 18 years. If you listen closely, you can hear the delightful combination of the Canadian accent mixed with a Texas twang. 

“My daughter is one of the people that can say ‘y’all’ and ‘eh’ in the same sentence,” admitted Alice. “We loved Dallas. The town is filled with wonderfully warm, welcoming people. It was a very different place culturally from Canada, but that was good because I learned a lot. I learned that everyone has a silver set. I didn’t have a silver set. And I had never seen it before, but everyone has a deviled egg tray. I learned about barbecue, I learned about cowboy boots, I learned what ranches were and I learned about a very hospitable people.”

It was their son Brendan that brought the Court family to Boca Grande.

“Brendan was on the Texas State lacrosse team and they had a game against the Florida State lacrosse in Orlando over the March break. We decided that we did not want to spend our entire time in Orlando, so we turned to a club called Private Retreats that we belong to and they had a place here in Boca Grande. We signed up sight unseen. We had never heard of Boca Grande and didn’t know anything about it. We just fell in love. In June of that same year, David told me to fly from Texas for the day and get an idea of what properties were available. I got on a plane at 7 in the morning and got back at 10 that night. When I got home he asked if there were any that were interesting. I said there was one in Sea Watch, and that’s all we said.” 

Cut to Alice’s birthday about a month later. “I opened the envelope from David, and he said, ‘Surprise! I bought it for you!’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me? I don’t even know if the air conditioner works.’ David said, ‘I thought you said you liked it.’ I know he wanted it, too.”

The Court family soon made the move to Boca Grande. 

“We didn’t know what we were coming into, but we loved it. During construction we snuck in and we just looked at the view from the third floor. The fact that it’s so close to the Gulf just gives you a different feel and I love the sound of the waves. But there is no bad place in Boca Grande. That’s what I love. I love everybody’s house and the views are so different. You can see the moon rise over on harbor side and you can see the sunset here. Each one is magical.”

The businesswoman in Alice has goals for Royal Palm Players. 

“My number one goal is to get more folks involved in Royal Palm Players, not only on stage but behind the scenes. This year for the first time we are putting on a workshop called ‘Stagecraft’ that is specifically designed to introduce people to all aspects of the theater. It is going to be a blast. 

Busy as ever with family and Royal Palm Players, Alice and David have been on the Council of Advisors for National Geographic for about 15 years.  

“It is a wonderful organization. As a board member of Friends of Boca Grande, I am in charge of the Great Adventurers Series and that is the reason we have been able to get the President of National Geographic and an incredible array of National Geographic Explorers down to Boca Grande as speakers.”

With one foot in the arts and the other in business, Alice has her eye on the prize.

“If I can do anything to give back to this organization for the next two years, I am very happy to do that. It has given me a lot of joy.”