In the summer of 2002 I worked at a tiny little theatre in Newark, OH. It was my first "professional" design job and one that I was thrilled to have. It was your typical summer stock theater. Young, newly minted theater professionals, and some, like me, were still students, gathering together forty minutes outside of Columbus to do some shows. The community was small but loved their little theater. I designed Lend Me A Tenor, Guys and Dolls, and Driving Miss Daisy that summer.
I also lived with two people, Cathleen Oliva, a fellow student at the University of Florida and easily one of the funniest women I've ever had the privilege to know, and a young New York based performer named Matthew Trombetta.
Matthew had a quick wit, and lots of opinions. He also had an uncanny way of making the most mundane issue a hysterically funny story. He was full of life in that kind of way you typically only see in movies. That summer in Ohio he drove a beat up car he nicknamed "the greyhound" and carried a concrete block around to make sure the parking brake didn't disengage and let the car roll away. He would unabashedly make himself the butt of a joke, knowing that the ability to laugh at yourself was the essence of true happiness.
After that summer, we fell out of touch, this being the days before Facebook and Myspace, but I still thought of him, and knew through the tiny grapevine that is the theatre world that he had moved to that town in Ohio, and had started to make that little theater his life.
It was in that little town forty minutes east of Columbus where he built a life, and it was there that it ended two weeks ago. Matthew Trombetta, only 30 years old, died on stretch of highway between his work and his home, the victim of a head on collision with a drunk driver.
The summer I spent in Ohio was better because of him. My life was better for having known him. The world is a darker place now that he's gone.
Sleep Well Matthew. You'll be missed all the days of my life.