Mishke & Caroline (or Romeo & Romeo): Hitched!

Please scroll down to the bottom of the story to watch Clint Viebrock’s video of the happy couple exchanging their vows.

Here’s a happy headline for a change, one that, err, trumps all the “fake news,” even the latest, greatest sex scandal.

And in today’s world of gender fluidity, the headline should not raise too many eyebrows.

The Setting

Cue the drumroll: On October 10 at roughly 3 p.m., Romeo married Romeo, thus putting a Hollywood ending on Shakespeare’s tale about a pair of star-crossed lovers.

The couple, resplendent in white (her) and sequins (him) exchanged vows under a canopy of Colorado bright yellow and blue, their heartfelt, eloquent, quirky exchange witnessed by mountain majesties – and a galaxy of their besties, old friends and new, many local super stars, most tricked out like BFF’s of Phryne Fisher (of “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”) – the dress code was Twenties – many in the orbit of the Sullivans’ sun.

No, that was not a typo.

I repeat: Romeo married Romeo.

Allow me to explain.

The bride and her dad.

In 2002, the groom in question, a local legend named (we think) Eric Mishke – or just Mishke or Mitchell Key, “a rose by any other name” – starred in what was then the Telluride REP’s production of “Romeo & Juliet.”

Asked why he wanted to play the part, he replied: “I had the time to give to community theater and I know playing Romeo will help me pick up chicks. I love flirting with girls.”

No truer words…

Mishke was 27ish at the time or as he put it in his “Doers” interview in the local daily: “Around 27, forged in the personality engine of the third system of Alpha Tuscane, a dim star in the minor southern hemisphere constellation. Beamed to Earth as part of a cultural exchange program. Port of entry: Chicago.”

“M” is for magical, maddening, mischievous, memorable and Mishke, a host of the 2017 Mountainfilm.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Unless, of course, you are The Mishke.

Mishke is a self-described, aspiring astronaut and cult leader, who has spent (about) the last 20 years in Telluride trying to do every job in town at least once. On occasion, he drove the Galloping Goose bus. From emceeing the Ride Festival to driving 4X4 tours over Imogene pass and, working as an amateur astronomer, teaching the night sky, Mishke was (and is) never one to shy away from adventure – or a challenge.

A bridesmaid & her handsome escort.

Not even – thank heaven! – the challenge posed by one Caroline Grace Moore.

The notorious, self-confessed flirt met his match in the spring of 2013 in Telluride Theater’s revival of the rock blockbuster “Hair,” which rhymes with “Air,” which was the song Caroline happened to sing in the production and “absolutely crushed it.” (per Mishke).

The air around the two shifted.

There was no turning back.

(Though there was a period of about three years of turning away because, well, Mishke got cold feet. However, a message from R & J rings true here: “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.” During those years apart, the missing years, both found themselves so they could find each other better. For more on their story, go here.)

Mishke’s initial attraction is easy to understand: Caroline is The Package: beauty and brains and talent to burn; or brass tacks: the voice of an angel, a megawatt smile and personality to match, all of which easily fills up anyplace she happens to be, including or maybe especially when performing on stage (And we trust The Package will ensure the lady’s future as an A-list chanteuse in the very near future.)

Full circle, in July 2016 (mere months before Mishke proposed to his bride while sailing in the Bahamas), Caroline starred as – wait for it – Romeo in Telluride Theater’s big, bold, edgy adaptation of Shakespeare’s renowned tragedy.

But not as Juliet.

As Romeo, in this version, a young man/person wild (of hair and spirit), impetuous, impassioned, romantic.

Caroline’s Romeo inveighing against life with Benvolio.

In other words, Caroline played herself – in drag or perhaps more accurately, gender indifferent.

Why that twist in casting? Because when director Colin Sullivan looked deep into the heart of Shakespeare’s character, he found as much sugar as spice. The message here (and from the headlines and the zeitgeist) is simple: gender today (and in Shakespeare’s day, when all the roles were played by boys and men) is fluid; love is blind; and young love especially is knuckle-headed.

Just not in this case.

Because Mishke and Caroline, Romeo & Romeo, have an undeniable cosmic connection.

They have the gifts magic and music to celebrate, amplified because two are now one.

The vows. Now there is no turning back.

Paraphrasing The Bard (from “Romeo & Juliet”): Their bounty is as boundless as the sea/Their love as deep; the more he give to her/The more he has, for both are infinite.

The wedding day ended as it should have, that is in keeping with Mishke’s philosophy of life: “We’re all in it together, so let’s have a good time.”

The couple’s abundantly talented close friends, a cast of thousands (or so it seemed), celebrated the nuptials in grand style with a tongue-in-cheek, no-holds-barred vaudeville extravaganza at Telluride’s Sheridan Opera House, where they hash-tagged the couple in song, dance and poetry. Even a chicken weighed in.

The day was sealed with kisses – and a shoe-shaking “Saturnalia” (in plain speak, a dance party) that followed the show.

Then, for the newlyweds, it was on to happily-ever-aftering: “Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow. That we shall say good night till it be morrow.”

Congrats.

Amen.

And happy trails.

 

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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.

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