NH Love Stories: Lori and Morgan
Flashback to 1993. Morgan Murphy is a casting assistant for the Lincoln, NH-based North Country Center for the Arts (NCCA). Lori Gigliotti, a New York-based actor, auditions and makes an impression.
As luck would have it Murphy's boss, Van McLeod (now the state's commissioner of cultural resources), casts them as love interests in the season's productions, "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Little Shop of Horrors."
Both are impressed by the other's work ethic. When the time comes to rehearse their first kiss, three love stories are happening. Lori laughs as she remembers their nerves and dry lips.
When the season ends, they embark on a long-distance relationship punctuated by summers together working for NCCA.
In 1997, on their way to attend a musical version of "On Golden Pond" (a favorite movie for both from childhood), they begin wondering aloud about the status of their relationship. Murphy pulls to the side of the road and proposes.
They remember the surreal feeling of watching the production afterward, aware that the person they were going to spend the rest of their lives with was beside them.
Their June 1997 wedding was stress-free. "We didn't want it to be about performing for anyone," Murphy explains.
Lori wore a simple wedding dress that would let her get in and out of a boat, a necessity as the two wed on Belle Island on Newfound Lake.
When the newlyweds arrived at the Mount Washington Resort, the staff greeted their red Triumph Spitfire convertible with applause. The honeymoon, an 11,000-mile road trip, lasted 43 days.
Lori settled into New Hampshire, working at New Hampton School, where Murphy was the head of the arts department. They've worked together on artistic projects ever since, finally quitting their jobs in 2009 to start Whitebridge Farm Productions with Ernest Thompson, the Oscar-winning author of "On Golden Pond." The company develops independent films and theatrical productions.
The couple's biggest challenge is now their shared work ethic. "One of our biggest challenges is knowing when to turn it off," admits Lori. Their daughters sometimes beg them to stop talking about projects.
When Murphy tells the girls he's talking about mommy and daddy's love story - not work - Cullen Belle, 11, and Logan Lusette, 7, reward him with smiles.
"The world is spinning everyone into believing it's about something other than people," Murphy says. "I could have gotten caught in the spin and missed this."