NEW YEARS WITH THE SYMPHONY: Boyd wasn’t much for improv about murder. In his days on the police force he’d seen enough real murders to know there was nothing funny about killing, but he sat quietly, looking for another lead. When one of the actors asked for audience participants, Boyd didn’t so much as blink. Nonetheless, he was picked out of a crowd of willing participants to play the part of a potential murder witness being interview by an actor playing a policeman. This was a terrible decision on the part of ETC, or so he thought. Boyd didn’t play along at all—humor was not his game. He simply did what he’d do if he were being questioned by the police. “I’d like an attorney,” he replied flatly to the actor’s questions. There were no laughs. His non-responses left the actor with no place to go. “Am I free to leave now, officer?” Boyd asked. The actor consented, maybe in mercy to an unamused Boyd or maybe hoping to let the show go on. But before Boyd left the stage, the actor stopped him. “Here’s my card,” he said, and stuffed a piece of paper in Boyd’s shirt pocket. “Call that number if you decide you want to do the right thing.” Boyd returned to his seat, embarrassed and fuming. He fished the paper out of his pocket and looked at it. It wasn’t a business card at all. No, it was exactly what he’d been after all this time! It was a ticket to the New Year’s Eve Celebration with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra with special guest soprano and Alabama native Susanna Phillips. Boyd was elated—he’d been enamored with Phillips’ singing since he saw her debut with the Metropolitan Opera. Tickets ranged from $20 to $70 and he would have paid anything to see a show like this, but now he had a free ticket. In the lobby, Boyd pulled out his notebook and scribbled in it. New Years Eve, Alabama Theatre, 6 p.m., (205) 251-7727 or alabamasymphony.org. He walked outside and lit up a Lucky Strike from a fresh pack. For once, he thought, the night doesn’t seem so dark. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!