Once & for­ever

It was love at first in­ter­mis­sion for a cou­ple of theatre fans — but they al­most missed their cue

Toronto Star - - FRONT PAGE - ME­GAN OGILVIE STAFF RE­PORTER

In some ways, Jonathan Mor­ris and Amy Wood should never have met that chilly June night in 2015, when hun­dreds of theatre-lov­ing sin­gles filed into the Ed Mirvish Theatre in the hopes of find­ing love.

In other ways, it was as though they were des­tined to meet.

At least this is how Mor­ris, a 37-year-old sales con­sul­tant, and Wood, a 33-year-old sales co-or­di­na­tor, tell their how-we-met story. And since they are get­ting mar­ried on Nov. 11 — a dreamy cel­e­bra­tion cul­mi­nat­ing at Casa Loma — per­haps there is some­thing mag­i­cal about their serendip­i­tous first en­counter.

It be­gins with the first — and as yet only — time the Ed Mirvish Theatre has ar­ranged a sin­gles event: a spe­cial per­for­mance of Once, the Tony Award-win­ning musical that tells the story of a man and a woman who un­ex­pect­edly meet and con­nect through mu­sic.

More than 5,000 peo­ple had ap­plied to see the show. Just1,200 had been se­lected to at­tend what or­ga­niz­ers de­scribed as the world’s largest blind date, which matched peo­ple by age and gen­der pref­er­ence — and their favourite musical.

Mor­ris chose The Phantom of the Opera. He was paired with a woman named Karen, who never showed up.

Wood picked The Sound of Mu­sic. Her date, a man named Bo, sat down at the last minute and dashed off an in­dif­fer­ent “Hello, how are you?” be­fore the house lights dimmed.

By in­ter­mis­sion, both Mor­ris and Wood were feel­ing glum.

But then, while stand­ing in the con­ces­sion line, Wood saw Mor­ris out of the corner of her eye and the evening changed in a sec­ond.

“I looked to my right and saw a gen­tle­man who was tall, dark and hand­some,” Wood says, re­mem­ber­ing how she was in­stantly at­tracted to his smile. “I had seen him ear­lier in the evening. So I went over and said, ‘Hi.’ ”

The pair had only a few min­utes to chat, ex­chang­ing no more than the ba­sic get-to-know-you ques­tions and an­swers, be­fore the lights flashed, call­ing peo­ple back to their seats.

It was enough, though, for Mor­ris to know that he needed more time with this woman with the blue-green eyes and wide smile. He wrote his mo­bile num­ber on his busi­ness card, pass­ing it to Wood, and asked for hers in ex­change.

Then they went back to their as­signed seats, each won­der­ing what the other was do­ing, both want­ing to be to­gether again.

“In the back of my head and in my heart I was like, ‘Maybe I should go fill that empty seat next to Jonathan,’ ” Wood says. “But I didn’t think it was right to let my date down.” When the show ended, Wood again saw Mor­ris out of the corner of her eye and wor­ried they would miss another chance to meet.

“In my head I was chant­ing, ‘Please don’t go away yet, please don’t go away yet.’ ”

Just as Mor­ris was about to leave, Wood caught up with him in the lobby. Im­me­di­ately, they started talk­ing. And they didn’t stop.

They talked all through the show’s af­ter-party. They talked as the other the­atre­go­ers left. They talked as Mor­ris walked Wood back to her car.

“Af­ter­wards, I couldn’t tell you what we talked about,” Mor­ris says. “It felt like the whole world dis­ap­peared. It was just me and her.”

That night, Mor­ris texted his brother to tell him that he had met some­one. Wood felt the same way. Even though they weren’t of­fi­cially matched at the theatre, it was as though the evening was meant just for them.

“It was mag­i­cal,” she says. “There was al­ways some­thing bring­ing me back to him.”

Mor­ris waited only a day be­fore tex­ting Wood. The next week, they had their first of­fi­cial date. Both de­scribe the evening, which in­cluded din­ner at an Ital­ian restau­rant, a show at a Mis­sis­sauga com­edy club and their first kiss, as per­fect.

Three months later, Mor­ris and Wood moved in to­gether. The fol­low­ing June, on the first an­niver­sary of their hap­pen­stance meet­ing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, Mor­ris pro­posed dur­ing a week­end trip to Colling­wood, Ont.

“Look­ing back, there was never one mo­ment when we knew this was it,” Mor­ris says. “We al­ways just kind of knew that we would al­ways be to­gether.”

Since that chilly June evening in 2015, Mor­ris and Wood have re­turned to the Ed Mirvish Theatre to see sev­eral shows, each time snap­ping self­ies in front of the mar­quee. And in Septem­ber, they had their en­gage­ment photos taken in­side and out­side the theatre.

“It felt mag­i­cal be­ing back there, just the two of us,” Wood says. “We will al­ways be thank­ful for that night. Down the road, we can say to our kids, ‘Hey, this is where Mom and Dad first met.’ ”

Now, just days away from their wed­ding, Mor­ris and Wood want to be­lieve they would have even­tu­ally found each other. As their re­la­tion­ship pro­gressed, they dis­cov­ered they had of­ten fre­quented the same restau­rants and shops in Bramp­ton and Eto­bi­coke.

“We were al­ways just miss­ing each other,” Mor­ris says. “The theatre date gave us a help­ing hand by mak­ing sure we were at the same place at the same time.”

Back in 2015, Mor­ris and Wood each named dif­fer­ent mu­si­cals as their favourite shows. Now, of course, they both love the same one.

“It’s Once,” Wood says with a laugh. “We’re go­ing to dance to one of the songs at our wed­ding. It’s al­ways go­ing to be a part of our story.”

CAR­LOS OSO­RIO/ TORONTO STAR

Amy Wood and Jonathan Mor­ris met in 2015 at a per­for­mance of the musical Once at the Ed Mirvish Theatre on Yonge St. It was a sin­gles event with 1,200 at­ten­dees, but their as­signed dates didn’t work out.

CAR­LOS OSO­RIO/TORONTO STAR

Amy and Jonathan pose for en­gage­ment photos out­side the Ed Mirvish Theatre, where they first met.

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