My Touchstone, for Touchtone

My friend Wynn Martin as Touchstone, with Jennifer Jones as Audrey and a real-live goat as, well, a goat.
My friend Wynn Martin as Touchstone, with Jennifer Jones as Audrey and a real-live goat as, well, a goat.
Two-time Tony® nominee Robin De Jesus sings the role of Touchtone on the upcoming Studio Cast Recording, to be released by Broadway Records.
Two-time Tony® nominee Robin De Jesus sings the role of Touchtone on the upcoming Studio Cast Recording, to be released by Broadway Records.
Photo by Rebecca Woodman Taylor.
Jonathan Monk as Touchtone and Joanna Young as Audrey in the New York Musical Theatre Festival Production in 2004.
Jonathan Monk as Touchtone and Joanna Young as Audrey in the New York Musical Theatre Festival Production in 2004.
Jeremy Zaida as Touchtone and Xeni Tziouvaras as Celia in the Dos Pueblos High School Production, 2011. Photo by Joy Shot photography
Jeremy Zaida as Touchtone and Xeni Tziouvaras as Celia in the Dos Pueblos High School Production, 2011.
Photo by Joy Shot photography.
Tony Johnson as Touchtone and Grace Marie Walton as Celia, Theatre Under the Stars/Sam Houston State University production, 2007.
Tony Johnson as Touchtone and Grace Marie Walton as Celia, Theatre Under the Stars/Sam Houston State University production, 2007.
Billy Recce as Touchtone and Amelia Scaramucci as Celia in Broadway Workshop's Childrens Musical Theatre Festival production in 2011.
Billy Recce as Touchtone and Amelia Scaramucci as Celia in Broadway Workshop’s Childrens Musical Theatre Festival production in 2011.
Photo by Holli Matze.

We have a lascivious character in Like You Like It named Touchtone. He’s our homage to the Anthony Michael Hall character in Sixteen Candles and the younger brother in Just One of The Guys: the geek who thinks he’s cool and suave and is after all the ladies.

While I am a fourteen year old boy at heart, I was having a difficult time articulating the character, especially to Dan when we started writing the song  “Blame it on The Mall.”


Here’s the video from our 2014 54 Below Concert.)

We were hitting a wall with Touchtone. Neither of us could get inside his mind.

Then my high school friend Wynn came to town.

Wynn was in a class by himself…. literally: His senior year, he was the only student in IB Physics II.  He also was a Dr. Seuss connoisseur, having written the epic tome “Late Grades and Spam” in our literary journal.  When we did As You Like It my senior year, he played Touchstone. He relished the line “Holla. You. Clown!,” perhaps because he was somewhat of a clown himself.

We also worked together on the school paper.  The  classroom was a temporary building (the “shack”) that housed, among other things, an old printing press named Bertha, a ratty couch, a group of wayward over-achieving youth like us, lockers that no one used (because they were so gross), a Kraft American Cheese single pinned to the bulletin board (that somehow was NOT gross), a storehouse of all the books read by IB English students, and a passel of “No Thanks I’m Driving” bumper stickers.

Those stickers provided Wynn and me with hours of inappropriate fun.  We cut up the letters and rearranged them to create custom messages (which I then affixed on my car) such as: “No, I’m not Tom Hanks,”  or “No thanks. I’m Sondheim.”

Wynn and I reconnected many years after high school. We had coincidentally come out around the same time, and he had a gift for me: he pulled out a sticker he had crafted from those famous bumper stickers.  He had saved some over the years and gave me a custom-made sticker that read: “No t*ts, baby, I’m a man’s man.”

When Wynn joined Dan, my cousin and me at a performance of the Broadway revival of Rocky Horror, Wynn stared slackjawed at one of the dancers, repeating under his breath “Nice.  Aaaaaaaasssssssss.”  When we left the theatre, we happened to pass a group of the dancers and Wynn simply turned to us and mouthed “Nice.  Aaaaaaaasssssssss.”

After Wynn’s trip, we knew what to do with Touchtone.

For years, Wynn was so excited there was a character based on him, albeit a straight version.  And he was even more excited when one of his crushes, Buffy‘s Tom Lenk, once played the character in a reading.

Sadly, Wynn never got to see any of his avatars on stage. He passed away a few years ago, about a year before Like You Like It played in Houston.  During those weeks home, I missed him dearly.  I was so angry he couldn’t be there. He would have loved the production, and knowing him, he most likely would have repeated his Rocky Horror mantra upon seeing our cast.

Still, he was around somehow, because everywhere I looked, I kept on seeing Miatas, the kind of car Wynn drove.

And every time I see a Touchtone on stage, I know at least a spark of him lives on.