Marriage proposal takes center

By on November 8, 2017
At the conclusion of last Wednesday’s performance of Sweeney Todd at the Ephrata playhouse, actor Preston Schreffler surprised the audience and his girlfriend,  Abby Hoy, with an unscripted marriage proposal. Photo by Missi Mortimer

At the conclusion of last Wednesday’s performance of Sweeney Todd at the Ephrata playhouse, actor Preston Schreffler surprised the audience and his girlfriend, Abby Hoy, with an unscripted marriage proposal. Photo by Missi Mortimer

“Sweeney Todd,” despite the bloody gore, body parts, and its subtitle referring to the “Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” is a love story at its core. Preston Schreffler had his own tale of the heart to tell at EPAC Nov. 1 during curtain call.

Schreffler, who portrays Beadle Bamford in EPAC’s rendition of the hit Broadway musical, held the applause shortly after the troupe took their bows in order to get the attention of a partially unsuspecting crowd. The most unsuspicious member of the audience was his girlfriend and fellow thespian Abby Hoy.

“She came to meet me (here) for the very first time,” said Schreffler from center stage as he recalled a moment in 2014 when he was performing in the theatre’s showing of “Cabaret.” “She sat with her best friend, right up there, and she is here tonight with that same best friend.”

He asked her to come down to the stage. Wearing a vintage-style red dress, Hoy accepted Schreffler’s unorthodox request to join the players on the stage, who by now had slipped to the edges of the set.

“We met for the very first time right around here, by this trap door, and I’ll never forget the first thing I said to her. I said, ‘I thought you’d be taller.’ And she said …”

“I thought you’d be taller,” said Hoy, evoking laughs from the audience, some of whom were in attendance just for this special occasion.

“And ever since then we knew we were a perfect match, so in sync. It’s been three years of adventure, long conversations, and all sorts of fun times. But, I don’t think three years is enough. And, so, well, I know you thought I’d be a little taller, but I’m about to get a little shorter,” said Schreffler.

He kneeled, and Hoy gasped, covering her mouth with both hands. The crowd erupted as he produced a ring box from a pocket in his costume. Without hesitation the two embraced, kissed, and the crowd screamed in happiness even louder. The answer was yes.

But, if Schreffler is a reader he already knew this would be the outcome. Hoy, who has been active at EPAC for several years in several capacities, also writes a blog called Penny Darling. On Oct. 30, Hoy penned a piece titled, “The ‘How We Met’ Story” detailing the beginning of her and Schreffler’s relationship.

“And who knows what the future holds?,” wrote Hoy in her blog. “I know that I’m dating my husband. One day, I will marry the absolute heck out of that guy. I’m just waiting (very impatiently!) for him to pop the question.”

She will wait no more. With a theatre filled to near capacity with many of the EPAC family in attendance, Hoy was one of the last to know, but planning for the evening began months ago. Like many upstanding young men before him who have proposed to a woman, Schreffler asked the father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Jack Hoy said Schreffler made his intentions known in August. Mr. Hoy and his wife, Kathy, as well as Schreffler’s parents, were in attendance Wednesday evening.

“We knew the engagement was coming, we just didn’t know the exact date or how he was going to do it until two weeks ago,” said Jack the day after the proposal. “I knew she was excited to get married and I’m sure having all her friends and acquaintances and the cast (there was important). Theater has always been a part of both her and (Schreffler’s) life. Having it set in that venue was particularly good for her.”

Two of Hoy’s close friends from high school came to the show, one traveling from Chicago to stay in Pennsylvania just for the night.

“You don’t see that level of dedication much anymore,” said Jack. “She was surrounded by a lot of people who were important to her. Theatre is her life.”

The father of the bride-to-be couldn’t have been happier with the proposal.

“It’s touching to see your little girl grow up and become a woman. It was tearing at my heartstrings,” Jack said.

The simple story of Schreffler and Hoy’s relationship is they met at EPAC, but there is more to it than that. Theirs is a love that almost did not kindle. Both single three years ago, Hoy and Schreffler initially met digitally through OkCupid, a dating app. At first, their lives were not ready to intersect even though they ran in similar circles. They chatted for a bit via text, but the timing was not right for them to actually meet each other. She was working at EPAC during the day and he was rehearsing at night. She had a show in production and so did he. They started dropping each other messages on Post It notes. Eventually, they did get their chance to connect as Schreffler described before pulling Hoy on stage Wednesday night.

The couple celebrated their engagement as friends and family rushed the stage around them. Hoy posted a photo of the ring on Facebook the next day with the witty and apropos caption: “Three years ago I asked him to be my boyfriend. He told me that seems sensible. Last night he asked me to be his wife. I told him that seemed sensible.”

Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He graduated with a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Maine at Farmington and is actively published by trade journals, specialized websites, and regional and national magazines. Upton lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania-in the heart of Amish Country-with his wife Mel and two youngest children Halligan and Teagan. Chef Tyler, his oldest son, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

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