On Wind Chimes and “Like Kissing Moonlight”

A wind chime arrived unexpectedly in the mail yesterday. It has a smiling moon on the top, more on the significance of that later. Attached was a note that hoped this addition would make our apartment feel a little more like a home.  Now when the wind blows, I hear our friends’ cheery voices bouncing through the chimes. Lovely. 

As with many of the fortunate things in our lives in the past ten years, meeting these particular friends involved our rescue dog Keisha. This dog really is special.  She instinctively knows the good un’s from the bad un’s, as we used to say while living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee.  Walking Keisha in the park one day on a mile-long loop, we were caught by Teri, who could probably win anyone’s ‘fastest walker’ award. She had her rescue dog Scout with her, and Keisha let us know they were good un’s with a wag of her tail.  Scout is not the brightest dog on the planet but is excellent at playing with others.  While the dogs ran and played together we chatted with Teri and got a lot of good cardio in as we tried to keep up with her. This developed over a few years into a lovely friendship, which expanded to Teri’s whole family.

Her daughter Mandy, has become a friend and theatre colleague as well. Mandy is on her way to becoming a famous film producer.  Watch and see, I’m dead right on this one.  She was my assistant director for an updated version of “The Glass Menagerie” I directed.  Teri and her husband did the props for that play.  It’s quite the prop-ridden play, and they did a fantastic job, even making authentic Wrigley’s gum wrappers for the pivotal moment when Jim shares his gum with Laura.  Prior to that involvement, Mandy and Teri ushered for a play I wrote and directed called “Like Kissing Moonlight”, multiple times.  That’s the significance of the moon on the wind chime they sent.

Mandy fell in love with the theatre through that show, and I believe it sent her on a trajectory that is going to be marvelous for both herself and the rest of us. I continue to be the great beneficiary of the friendship of the entire extended family that play created. Like our heroic dog Keisha, “Like Kissing Moonlight” is special.

As a writer for some 25 years now, I can tell you when a play or a screenplay is very good, it takes on a life of its own. “Like Kissing Moonlight” continues to be read and performed at theatres (it’s a crowd pleaser), and its monologues used with great success for college auditions. I am inordinately proud of this play. It’s a mashup of Chekov’s “Three Sisters” and the “Cherry Orchard”, set in modern day Appalachia.  Like any good story about family, it’s funny, and warm and emotional with a good dose of regret, anger and family secrets.  Like any good story about Appalachia it has ghosts and superstitions and everyone enters through the kitchen’s back screen door. It even contains a joke that works every performance. I decided to turn it into a screenplay last year, and by another happy circumstance, have met and become friends with a film producer here in Dallas.  She in turn handed it to a rather famous and talented film director who also liked it and they are moving forward with the project.  While the term “moving forward with the project” often can take years in Hollywoodspeak, I am hopeful that the fall of this year or next will mark a return to Appalachia and my friend Teri and her family when we film it.  Maybe Mandy will work on it, wouldn’t that be something?

This week, I am grateful to be reminded with every puff of wind in the chimes that friendship endures, and that rescue dogs and art continue to bring value and happiness into this troubled world.  They are Good Things, as Martha Stewart used to say, and goodness knows we need all of those we can get.

** selfie photo is of my incredible cast right before the Premier performances of “Like Kissing Moonlight” at the Johnson City Community Theatre.  Dear friends all, they are from top: Larry Bunton, Hunter Hall, Karen Mabe, Emily Nagy, Joy Nagy, Dave Hutton, Melanie Yodkins Headen, Matt Quick and Paige Mengel.  Not pictured is the amazing crew: Emily Barnes my epic stage manager, Britney Fox, Veronica Roberson, Steven Bracey, Carolee Mabe, JJ Jeffers, Frank Mengel, Richard Lura, and CJ Ferguson.  We created a family with this one, one that endures.  “It’s the people you miss.”

Below is our official production shot, thank you Kallie Gay of Catch the Wind photography.


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