Watching the opening night of the 16-show run of BEAUTIFUL — THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 20 and its tortured relationships that came with success, plus headlines of the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie breakup, I couldn’t help but reflect on the challenges of showbiz marriages.
The stress of being separated and together, coping with where the next hit or gig will be. Be it a company manager, producer or investor, there’s always somebody who is the boss telling you what to do or where to go. Sara Andreas, who appears in ROCK OF AGES at The Rio, reflected on the rigors of the road:
The road can be a lot of things: Traveling on tour, a metaphorical journey or the physical path of asphalt we drive on every day. It’s been said that the road can be lonely, it can be rough and winding or straight and narrow, it can be weathered or newly paved. My road to Las Vegas was all of those things and more.
My husband, Michael Mahany, and I moved to Las Vegas in February to join the company of ROCK OF AGES at The Rio. We have been together for 10 years, which, in actor years, much like dog years, is … well, a lot.
These last six months have been the longest amount of time we’ve been in the same state, and this opportunity also marks the first time we’ve worked in the same show. We’ve traveled quite a bit, albeit separately, but our road to Las Vegas has been anything but a straightaway.
Mikey and I met at a mutual friend’s annual Christmas party, and if I said we immediately hit it off, I’d be lying. We actually met at the same party the previous year and barely spoke two words to each other, but for some reason the stars aligned that Christmas Eve. The flare ignited.
Since I was still in college at the time and Mikey had just moved to New York, our newfound interest in each other sparked a nightly phone ritual for the next eight months. Finally, during the summer between my junior and senior year, I flew to New York to spend time with this guy who I’d only seen once (well, twice if you want to be picky), yet knew so intimately on the phone.
From Miami to New York
I planned to stay a week, with a solid backup plan if things went south, but after only five minutes of awkwardness, it was the easiest thing ever. Fast forward nine long months to graduation. After three round trips from MIA to JFK, 21 credits and one balmy Thursday ceremony in Coral Gables, I moved to New York with a degree, boyfriend with an apartment and dream.
First fork in the road. Three days after my arrival, we had to hit the brakes. Mikey left for a year and a half on the first national tour of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. OK, I thought, a little more distance, but what an opportunity. We’re used to this. We’ve got this.
I flew back and forth between NYC and whichever state he was playing that week. I missed him, but it was fun seeing all the places he was playing, and it was only a year and a half. A bump in the road, but nothing more.
Can you guess the U-turn that came next? Two weeks after Mikey’s show closed, I left for two years on the national tour of LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL. Same story, roles reversed. Mikey would fly out as much as he could to visit me, and it was great when he was there, especially the night when our hotel caught on fire in Cleveland.
He was there to wake me out of my deep slumber so I didn’t die a fiery death. Finally after two years on the road, I made it back to New York, where we now owned an apartment together that we bought while I was on the road and had yet to reside.
Between gigs, actors often rely on side jobs, which can often make one’s road to success feel like being stuck in a traffic jam. A few weeks before I returned, Mikey had to take a side job: the night shift at a midtown hotel. The new job meant a sense of security, mediocre benefits and free time during the day to audition.
But it also meant that he worked through the night and slept most of the day. Around the same time, I started rehearsal for CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. It was an amazing time for me with the glitz and glam of a Broadway dream coming true, but it was a difficult time for us. The only time we saw each other was when he met me at my stage door after the show and I walked him to work.
Yet another detour
After nine incredible months, my show got its closing notice, and, although I was devastated, it at least meant that I’d be able to spend more time with Mikey. But, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, a new detour had reared its lovely head.
Three weeks before CATCH ME IF YOU CAN closed, the road found its way back into our lives. The national tour of WICKED offered Mikey a role, and with four days’ notice, he was on the road for another year and a half.
It gets even wackier. While he was away, I ended up on the road, too, when THE ADDAMS FAMILY national tour needed a replacement actor and I was hired. After a few months of what felt like a love affair out of a spy novel, where we’d meet up in cities across the U.S. for a night and whisk off to the next town, we compared our road schedules.
As a wonderful twist of fate, our roads converged. For three glorious weeks in Seattle, we’d be sharing one hotel room (across the street from a fabulous pastrami deli) as he was to play the Paramount and I the Fifth Avenue. If you know anything about touring schedules, shows rarely play the same city at the same time. It was an incredible time.
Shortly after THE ADDAMS FAMILY closed, Mikey put in his notice to come home from WICKED. Well, as sure as rush-hour traffic in the spaghetti bowl, I booked another road show not even four weeks before his return. This time it was the closing nine months of Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony Award-winning revival of ANYTHING GOES.
Since we were now engaged (oh, yeah, we got engaged — yay!), we’d begun planning our wedding. While I was on tour, we planned our wedding over the phone, on trains between D.C. and New York, anywhere and every way we could.
New marriage and puppy
I flew home to New York a few times to check venues, and he flew out to help mail invitations. We wed on a gorgeous September afternoon in Hudson Valley, my show closed in November, and we adopted a puppy. Now we were going to be together. Well, almost.
If you want to keep working in theater, the road often sings her siren song and lures you back. During our first two years of marriage, we’d been blessed with bliss and work, as one of us would inevitably leave town to do a short-term gig somewhere.
I think the longest stint we had together at home was maybe four weeks, but we didn’t know anything else. We loved each other, and we loved our work. We figured that this was just going to be the way it was. That was until we saw the audition for ROCK OF AGES.
Mikey got the appointment first, an understudy position in the Las Vegas company. He then saw in his email that they were looking for the female character of “Regina,” as well. We reached out and proposed the idea of a package deal, an audition together, a one-for-all and all-for-one proposition.
We went into the audition thinking that there was such a small chance of us both getting the show and that we couldn’t pin our hopes on it. By the grace of the theater gods (with some help from Kelly Devine, Kristin Haggi and Rachel Hoffman of Telsey Casting), we did it — we booked the show together!
It was an immediate start, so we packed up our things and hit the road to Las Vegas within a week. Even with the last-minute notice, we didn’t care. We were just so happy to be in a position where we can live and work together after 10 years of not actually being together.
Although we’ve played a game of cat and mouse across the country for 10 years, we knew exactly what we were signing up for when we started this career. We’ve had some incredible jobs and experiences that we wouldn’t trade for the world.
Now having been in ROCK OF AGES in Las Vegas for the last few months, and although it’s been a bit of a process being together all the time, it’s still awesome. With this view of Las Vegas Boulevard from the express lane, I wouldn’t trade this piece of the road for anything.