Join a Theater Club Set the stage for romance

As freshmen at the University of Alabama, Allison Lyn Mollenkamp and William James McCrary were among a group of seven students who put on a production of Foreplay Or: The Art of the Fugue, a short play from the anthology All in the Timing, ‘ written by David Ives.

A few weeks ago, Ms Mollenkamp and Mr McCrary, both 26, married, the second couple in this group of seven. (A third is engaged.)

Their walk down the aisle came nearly eight years after they met at an on-campus theater club in September 2014. Ms Mollenkamp, ​​who is from Jefferson City, Missouri, said she had been a “theater kid” for most of her life, but Mr McCrary, who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, had only recently become interested in the art form . “I Googled ‘cool clubs at the University of Alabama’ or something like that,” he said before deciding to join.

When the association asked for volunteers to direct short plays in the fall, Ms. Mollenkamp seized the opportunity. Although inexperienced, so did Mr. McCrary, partly to get to know her better. “I talked to her a bit,” he said. “I thought she was cute.”

In “Foreplay” the two were cast as actors. While chatting at rehearsals, they discovered similarities. Both are trumpeters, as well as the eldest child in their respective families; she has two siblings, he has one. Her first official appointment, initiated by Ms. Mollenkamp, ​​took place in February 2015 at an on-campus Starbucks. When they met, they learned about another common trait: no one drinks coffee. (Both got hot chocolate.)

They soon began having regular lunch dates, and in March they shared a first kiss. A theater rehearsal followed – and a failed kiss attempt earlier that day as they walked along the Black Warrior River, which lies between the towns of Northport and Tuscaloosa. As they sat on a bench overlooking the river, Ms Mollenkamp recalled thinking, “Okay, we’re probably coming here for a first kiss, aren’t we?” But the moment was marred by two unicyclists who were in the pedaling close by. “It didn’t really feel very private or romantic,” she said.

When they both graduated in May 2018 – he with a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology and she with a bachelor’s degree in English – Mr McCrary accepted a year-long position at AmeriCorps in Birmingham, while Ms Mollenkamp moved to Lincoln, Neb. , moved to work at a public radio station, now known as Nebraska Public Media.

Determined to make it work on long-haul routes, Ms Mollenkamp said she had started “putting all my newfound money into paid jobs on airline tickets”.

For Christmas, she gave Mr. McCrary a toothbrush, which she described as more of a “symbolic” gift. The gesture meant, “You will always have a toothbrush in my place, you can always be here,” she said.

The following year, after leaving AmeriCorps, Mr. McCrary moved to Lincoln in July 2019. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, he further reduced the distance between them by staying at Ms Mollenkamp’s flat for a time. “That was when we get married, not when we get married,” she said.

They got engaged in June after another gift exchange: Mr McCrary gave her an engagement ring for Ms Mollenkamp’s birthday. The green tourmaline ring was purchased on Etsy and was chosen to match the wedding ring she inherited from her great-grandmother.

In August 2020, they moved to College Park, Md., with plans for both to attend graduate school at the University of Maryland. Mr. McCrary, who has started a Masters in History and Library Science, now works as a manager at the university bookstore. Ms Mollenkamp, ​​who has a master’s degree in journalism from university, is a member of NPR’s investigative team in Washington, where the couple relocated in June.

On July 23, they married in front of 29 guests in the backyard of Ms. Mollenkamp’s childhood home in Jefferson City. Elisabeth Blotevogel, a friend of the couple who was ordained Minister of Universal Life for the occasion, officiated at the ceremony, which included musical performances by the bride’s younger brothers and sister-in-law.

“I loved singing with my brothers growing up,” Ms Mollenkamp said. “They’ve been making music together for a long time.”

One song by the trio, Jason Isbell’s “If We Were Vampires,” “makes me think about riding in the car with the groom at night,” the bride said. “That was the one that made me cry.”

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