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Johnny O'Connor, a ballad about a man who can't face the thought of marriage, has been the theme song of the Harvard Krokodiloes since 1946.
But the show-stopping marriage proposal sung Saturday by group member Bentley J. Tolk '87-'90 to his girlfriend at the a capella group's Valentine's Day Jamboree was no Krok.
In front of a sold-out Sanders Theater audience, the Harvard sophomore ran into the crowd during the traditional number, grabbed a bouquet of roses, knelt by fellow sophomore Jennifer W. Durham and sang, "Marry me." When Durham accepted a diamond engagement ring, the audience erupted into a five minute standing ovation.
"I had been planning the marriage proposal for two months," said Tolk, a resident of Lowell House. "Jenny knew about the 'marry me' part, but the ring was a complete surprise," he said.
"I was really surprised; almost overwhelmed. With all the applause I felt like I'd won a beauty contest," Durham said.
Tolk arranged the proposal during latersession with Krok Musical Director Mischa A. Frusztajer '89 at the Krokodiloes' pre-concert retreat in Vermont. "It's traditionally the director's role to sing 'marry me' to someone in the audience during out theme song. I talked to Mischa and arranged the switch," Tolk said.
"The whole thing is going to go down in Krok history. This was definitely the first time anything like this has ever happened," Frusztajer said.
"It was a big surprise to all of us," said Ken T. Oshima '88, a three year veteran of the singing group. "The director [Frusztajer] and Bentley's room-mate [Thomas A. Shields '89] were the only other Kroks who knew about it," Oshima said.
Tolk and Durham, both originally from Utah, met at a church dance in February 1987 Their marriage ceremony will take place at the Salt Lake City Mormon Temple on August 19th of this year, Tolk said.
"It's going to be a whirlwind summer," Tolk said. He will be accompanying the Krokodiloes to Europe and Asia on their 1988 World Tour during June and July.
"The tour should be fun, but I'll miss Jenny very much," said Tolk. "I'll be staying behind for a few days for my brother's wedding in June, then catch up with the group in London on June 14th. I won't return until August 5th. Then I get married," he added.
The couple plans to finish their undergraduate education at Harvard, then enroll in a law school of their choice. But, "It's going to be a very long summer," said Durham.
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