While she was head of the stage crew in the 2013 Brillianteen production of “High School Musical,” Anna Hamrick had no idea that the teenage boy who jumped her dead battery would someday be her husband.

That boy was Teddy Keenan, the head of technology for the production, and the two worked in close collaboration in their behind-the-scenes roles.

”We like to say that we met doing a high school musical of High School Musical,” said Anna. (Brillinateen, a student-run musical sponsored by the Evanston YMCA for ETHS  juniors and seniors, is no longer doing productions.)

Separated by 843 miles

Still, after the show, the couple kept their relationship semi-casual until Anna graduated and left for University of Texas in Austin, while Teddy went to Carbondale, Ill., for flight school at Southern Illinois University. Their official first date started after Teddy drove 843 miles from Carbondale to visit Anna in Austin.

But even more surprising was that Teddy didn’t have a car. He had to knock on dorm doors searching for anyone that would agree to drive him to Texas.

Brandon Hall, a complete stranger to Teddy, agreed to do it and the two bonded during their overnight trip. After that, Anna and Teddy began their exclusive long-distance relationship. “We got really good at seeing each other every 5-6 weeks and on trips home to Evanston for the next three years,” Anna said.

Anna’s career path has been pretty straight forward. With a degree in education, she became an elementary school teacher in Nashville, Tenn. Teddy’s path has a bit different and as a result, it kept the couple in their long-distance relationship for the next few years.

Following graduation from SIU, Teddy worked as a flight instructor in Carbondale before being accepted into Officer Candidate School. He trained in New London, Conn. and then, was accepted into Navy Flight School in Pensacola, Fla.

In Pensacola, the couple finally lived in the same city for the first time in their relationship. Anna worked as a teacher while Teddy was able to fly “super cool airplanes and … learned how to fly a helicopter.”

It was a  “great place to learn to live with someone. You can go to the beach everyday, which is great,” said Teddy. “It was easy to be in a beautiful setting living together for the first time.”

When it came to getting engaged, ”Anna got to pick out her ring so it wasn’t that much of a surprise,” said Teddy. The couple had been committed for almost seven years and “we were both doing our dream jobs at that point.”

Both families came down for the engagement (and Teddy’s birthday), unbeknownst to Anna. Teddy proposed in the couple’s apartment and their families surprised Anna at dinner. They spent the weekend celebrating the engagement and his birthday with family and friends. 

“I had it in my head that we’d get engaged at home [in Evanston] over the holidays so the family could be there, but Teddy beat me to it by proposing in late September,” Anna said.

The wedding was a great party

The couple, now both 26, were married on June 25, 2022, by the Revered Peter Mayer, a cousin of the bride, while 200 guests looked on at the Chicago Illuminating Company. The Chicago Catz wedding band kept everyone dancing and the cocktail-style reception was catered by Limelight Catering. Three desserts were on hand for the celebration, all provided by Beth’s Little Bake Shop, Evanston.

The groom’s cake was decorated to honor Teddy’s Coast Guard career and was cut using his Coast Guard sword. Although he was on hand to slice it, Teddy only received a “small taste of the wedding cake that Anna gave me,” he said. The gorgeous flowers were provided by Michaela Mantarian of Chicago and the photographer was Kristin Cloyd, Glen Ellyn.

Anna is a daughter of Catherine Hamrick of Evanston and Kevin Hamrick of Nashville, Tenn. Teddy is a son of Lori and Peter Keenan of Evanston.

The couple lives in Traverse City, Mich. where Teddy is a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Coast Guard and Anna is a teacher in a combined first-second grade classroom.

But they no longer have to travel long-distances to see each other. And if they need to move, they do it as partners.

Teddy’s next Coast Guard assignment will likely be in Alaska in 2025. His Coast Guard career will have the couple moving every three-to-five years. While moving so often can be stressful, said Anna, “to me, Teddy has always felt like home, whether he was visiting me at UT or any of the places we’ve lived. Together or apart, he has always made me feel safe.”

Elizabeth Handler Krupkin

Elizabeth Handler Krupkin covers the local wedding scene for the Evanston RoundTable. Elizabeth is a lifelong Evanston resident and ETHS grad. When she is not teaching preschool you can find her running...

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