BWW Blog: Patti Murin of Goodspeed's HOLIDAY INN - Be Careful, It's My Heart
"Be Careful, It's My Heart"
or, the art of the long distance relationship
Obvious statement: relationships are hard. Like, real hard. But throw in some out-of-sync schedules, mix in a little "gotta kiss some random person who is not my significant other cause it's my job", and finish it off with anywhere from hundreds to thousands of miles between the two of you, and it becomes near impossible. Hence, the long distance relationship is born. AKA the LDR, as us peeps in the business say. Or maybe only I do. Or maybe I just made that up because I type with three fingers and I'm already getting tired.
However, this is something that actors deal with every single day. It is actually quite rare for both people to be in one city, gainfully employed, at the same time. Therefore, many of us have become LDR experts out of necessity, skillfully navigating both time and space to stay connected and in sync with the person on the other end of the phone/text/Skype session. Since so many people in our cast have romantic partners that they are away from more often than not, I thought it would be fun to examine the different ways they maintain balance and happiness in their love lives.
Most of the people I interviewed cited the basics, such as talking at least once a day, seeing each other as much as schedules allow, and FaceTime/Skyping. But keeping a truly strong partnership requires going above and beyond. Bryan Hunt, who is dating fellow Irving Berlin sweetheart Kelly Sheehan, recently surprised her in Pittsburgh, where she was tapping her heart out in the National Tour of "White Christmas." He also took a real cute video of it, so now he has actual physical proof for the rest of his life that he is an awesome boyfriend.
Caley Crawford has been with her boyfriend Zack for a year, and she keeps him close by keeping a sweatshirt of his up here with her to wear when he's not around, and trading it in for a new one when she goes to New York. Sarah Fagan and her boyfriend, Layne, got through her nine month cruise contract partly because he flew to Argentina to see her for Christmas! They also have a phrase that helps them laugh through the tough times: "Keep it real." This reminds them that taking the time to really catch up at the end of a long day instead of just saying a quick goodnight helps strengthen their bond, and in turn, their LDR.
John T. Wolfe keeps things fresh with his boyfriend, David, by sending each other a "photo of the day," which can be either an old memory that they shared, or a current silly moment. They also have been known to turn on Skype when they go to bed, so they are sleeping "next to each other" when they can't physically be together.
Darien Crago's boyfriend, Daniel Plimpton, is currently on the "Book of Mormon" tour, so his location changes every few weeks. As she loves receiving good old fashioned letters (soooo Holiday Inn 1947), she surreptitiously supplied Daniel with his own set of stationery. And pens. And stamps... so he basically has no excuse. Another absolutely fantastic thing they do every so often is a Photo Challenge, where Darien sends Daniel a list of five things he needs to find and take pictures of and send to her. Bonus points for a pic of either a child on a leash or a nun!
Amy Van Norstrand, who is dating Brian Patrick Murphy of Mark Fisher Fitness fame, says a great attitude is also a must. Although, she's dating a guy who works out for a living, so I'm pretty sure I would have a real good attitude about that too. Hi, BPM! Susie Mosher has been with her partner, Hope, for 21 years (!!!), so whatever they're doing is obviously working. She cites "lots of visits here in beautiful romantic Connecticut," as well as funny texts and emails, and daily morning and evening calls. She has also really been enjoying buying Christmas presents for Hope to feel close to her. I completely agree with that, though my online shopping habit has now become a full-fledged addiction because of this.
Abby Church has been LDR-ing with her boyfriend Shaun for almost two years now, with enormous help of planes, trains and automobiles. They try to see each other as much as possible, even if it's only for 24 hours at a time. When they can't be in the same state, they have "date nights" where they watch a TV show or movie at the same exact time and text each other throughout. So basically they live tweet it, but only to each other. How old-fashioned!!
Jeremiah Ginn has a completely different approach with his boyfriend of 4 years, TJ. They decided early on that the constant texting and calling would be detrimental to their relationship, and make the distance ultimately unbearable. So while they do check in briefly every day, they have longer, more meaningful phone calls or FaceTime sessions every few days, so there is more to catch up on.
Then we have a few people whose partners aren't even on the East Coast. Alissa Alter wins the prize for Most Insane Long Distance Relationship (the esteemed MILDR), as her husband Shane is currently in AFRICA, doing something philanthropic with microeconomics that makes me feel like I should give up all my worldly possessions and literally donate the rest of my life to charity. She enjoys making care packages to send him, and exchanging photos to feel more connected to him. Hopefully his include some lions, or zebras, or at least gazelles. They've now been together for a total of 12 years. And he's in freaking AFRICA.
Laura Harrison is also at a disadvantage, as her husband Keith is all the way in Los Angeles. They connect by sending each other pictures of their meals, texting Emojis, and maybe the cutest thing in the world, brushing their teeth together on the phone so they feel like they are right next to each other. Sigh.
As for my own relationship, I did what we all say we are never going to do and fell in love with another actor, Colin Donnell. And he's a real live working actor (they're sort of like unicorns), which means he is constantly having to fly to LA, or do readings of new musicals, or spend hours signing trading cards with his face on them for fans of comic book TV shows. But we discovered an app a little over a year ago that has kept us connected in a multitude of different ways. It's called (wait for it): Couple. Yes, the app is called Couple. Yes, it may be the worst, most basic name for an app that has ever existed. But it is incredible. All of our texting is contained here, plus all of our photos and videos and audio notes to each other. It's like our entire relationship is encapsulated in one click of a button, which serves as a very quick reminder of just how much we share. We never watch "The Walking Dead" or "Sleepy Hollow" without the other, fearing penalty of death by zombie bite or Moloch (serious TV nerds here). Also, Colin bought me what may be the most brilliant invention of our time (it's a close second to the Internets), The Boyfriend Pillow. I get to snuggle with it when he's not around, or at least when our puppy Milo isn't hogging it.
Like I said, relationships are hard. Little tricks and rituals are enormously helpful, but trust, honesty, and communication seem to be what it all boils down to. Oooh, and maybe not making out with other people. That also helps a bunch.