Val and I spent the morning at our local coffee shop, listing past experiences that have brought us most alive and present, and talking about how we can support one another in having more of these kinds of experiences as a shared vision for our married lives together. Not surprisingly, encouraging one another as artists was a major theme. How perfect, then, to be able to attend the remarkable wedding of Deb Norton and Chris Nottoli later that same day.
Theirs was not a traditional ceremony. Instead, having dedicated themselves to running Ojai’s local professional theater, Theater 150, they decided to write and stage a musical to both celebrate their commitment to one another, and raise funds to support the theater. The result was hilarious, profound, and disarming. Attended by hundreds at Ojai’s Libbey Bowl, the production involved inexpensive but clever props and costumes, a band and chorus, cheerleaders cueing Rocky-Horror-Picture-Show-style audience participation (ranging from throwing plastic bats to waving sprigs of kale), breakdancing Jello, the Greek god Hermes, and much more.
The result was a remarkable fusion of reality and theater, concluding a mix of heartfelt and zany theatrics tracing Deb and Chris’s journey through love and insecurity with an actual act of matrimony. And when they exchanged their vows and rings, and the real tears came, I felt stunned by the rightness–though it wouldn’t have been my own choice–of this particular, unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime experience of their union.
Thank you, Deb and Chris, for showing me, through giant dancing plants, plastic dolls on zip lines, and a horde of Mongol raiders composed of pint-sized local volunteers, the dynamic I seek to cultivate in my own marriage–a relationship of rich, bold, and rewarding creative symbiosis. Indeed you have made a statement, both uniquely yours and universally applicable, of what it means to be two artists married to one another, and to your art. Heartfelt congratulations to you both.