Wednesday, October 6, 2010

...Get me to the church on time...

Angie and I are getting married this Sunday, October 10, 2010, at 10am.  Yes, that's right, 10/10/10 at 10.  Initially, we had planned to wait till November, but the idea of all the tens was just too inviting.  The rings are on the wash table in front of me as I write.  Angie has a beautiful, understated, diamond-studded, petite and slim ring that perfectly matches her engagement ring (a re-set ring from her grandmother) and I have a black, silver-lined ring with pure silver lines through it.  I confess to not being a ring wearing kinda guy.  I don't know why.  I've just never liked wearing rings.  So it will take some getting used to on my part.

We're having a private, very small wedding in a little chapel in the exclusive Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles.  We've decided to be ultra-casual about it.  We've both been around the block a few times and neither one of us is interested in a big wedding.  On Angie's side will be her dear and lifelong friends, Tammy Lipps and Glenna Norris.  On my side will be my old and close buddy's Jimmy Barbour and John Bader. 

I met Jim in Kentucky, of all places, back in the summer of 1988.  The show was that old warhorse, Camelot, and I was playing King Arthur to Jimmy's Lancelot.  We were instantly close friends.  I had just pulled up to the parking lot out in front of the theater and was standing beside the car yapping with some other actors in the show that I knew.  Jim was up by the box office and someone told him, "That guy getting out of his car is your King Arthur." So he came down to meet me and as I stood there chatting, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder.  I turned around to see Jim, all 6'4" of him and he said, "Hi, I'm Jim Barbour.  I studied with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London."  He claims I said, "Hi, I'm Clif Morts and I don't give a shit." I don't remember it that way, but Jimmy swears that was the exchange. 

Between us we have about a thousand stories of that summer and that show together.  We still laugh about them today.  We went on to do a whole gaggle of shows together at a number of professional theatres up and down the east coast:  Funny Girl,  Drood, West Side Story, 1776, 1940's Radio Hour, Hello, Dolly, a couple of others.  Eventually, it became difficult to work together because we both had a niche for making each other break on stage.  Very few people can make me break on stage, Jim is one.  For some reason we got to the point where just looking at each other on stage put us both in danger of dissolving into laughter.  I don't know why.  Doing 1776 with Jimmy was almost painful every night because of it.  If you've ever tried to keep from laughing in church, you know exactly the kind of pain I'm talking about.  I sort of moved into writing a lot of plays and Jim, of course, became a few years later one of the most sought after musical theatre leading men in the country, doing mafor roles in Broadway's Carousel, Jane Eyre, A Tale of Two Cities, Assassins, Beauty and the Beast and many others.  And somehow, without planning it, we both ended up in Los Angeles, 22 years later, living about five minutes from each other.  In fact, we're co-teaching a workshop this November in NoHo. 

John Bader has been a close friend even longer.  Right after I graduated undergraduate school in Springfield, MO, I travelled to Iowa, of all places, to a little dung hole of a theater called The Old Creamery, run by a psychopath of an artistic director.  John and I were both doing our Equity Internship there at the same time.  That was October of 1984.  We ended up going on a bus and truck tour of the show The Fantasticks, with me as El Gallo and John as The Man Who Dies.  We both ended up moving to NYC at approximately the same time and over the course of the next fifteen years drinking most of the beer and tequila in that city.  In fact, John ended up directing my first produced play in New York called Changing It To Brando. He moved to Los Angeles in 1999 and lives about ten minutes from me now in the other direction.  John went on to do about 100 commercials out here, a few films, some TV shows (most notably a long stretch on the network series, The Practice) and a couple of plays.  He, like Jim, is a very, very good actor.  One of the best I know, in fact.  It's funny, but I seem to be incapable of being close friends with bad actors.  All of my best buds are really good at what they do.   I'm sure that says something about me, just not sure what.

So those are the two guys standing up with me in Sherman Oaks this Sunday.  And I couldn't be happier about it. 

John has organized a Bachelor's Party of sorts for this Friday night.  Seeing how neither of us drink anymore, we'll probably be in bed by ten that night.  We're heading over to a bowling alley with a group of my closest friends out here on the west coast, John, Jim, Brad Blaisdell, Brad Greenquist, Joe Hulser, Jim Petersmith and Rob Arbogast, all incredibly talented actors.  It's shaping up to be a fun night.

Afer the small ceremony (yes, I've written the vows myself) we're heading back here to the cottage to have a big dinner party, about 25 people or so.   Angie's friend, Tammy Lipps, a professional caterer here in LA, is doing the whole spread.  She's been written up in lots of magazines and stuff for her work and it promises to be a very tasty afternoon.  Lots of old friends are coming over and a few new ones, too.  It seems I was nearly the last of my generation of actors to make the move to LA.  We all started out in NY years ago, and one by one made the journey west.  I guess I sort of did, but I had a decade-long, pit-stop in Chicago.

I have to teach this workshop and finish filming the little movie I'm doing now, so our honeymoon is going to have to wait a bit.  But when we have the time our plan is to simply rent an RV and take out on the open road for a couple of weeks stopping off at places like The Grand Canyon (Old Dean Martin joke:  Í went to the Grand Canyon yesterday and it was closed!) and Vegas (oddly, I've never been).  We decided on this because we wanted to take our dogs, Franny and Zooey, with us.  Plus, I've always had a sort of obsessive preoccupation with RVs.  Don't know why.  I just like the idea of a mobile "fort," I guess, like when I was a kid.  We went to look at some awhile back and we think we've found the perfect one:  a 28 footer that looks like a small, upper west side apartment on the inside without the great view.

So after nearly a year of talking about it, we're finally doing the deed.  Getting married. 

How do you make God laugh?  Tell him your plans.

See you tomorrow.