On this year's Tony Awards red carpet, leading actor in a musical nominee Robert Fairchild and his wife Tiler Peck looked like the perfect couple: She — dressed in a plunging J. Mendel red gown, is the darling of the City Ballet and the star of the new Susan Stroman musical Little Dancer, which premiered at the Kennedy Center last fall, and he, looking dapper in a blue and black tux is also a principal dancer with the City Ballet, but took this year off to star (as the Gene Kelly role) in the Tony-nominated musical An American in Paris.
They were about to celebrate one year of marriage, but perhaps even more meaningful than that are the almost 15 years that came before it. Things weren't always perfect then — they met when they were just 11 and 13 in a jazz class and started an on-and-off relationship that lasted through their teens and early 20s. Fairchild was often breaking up with Peck, and after a while, Peck decided to move on, dating another dancer in the ballet for three years. Usually this would be the end, but proving almost all laws of dating wrong, it was another beginning for Fairchild and Peck. Like dancing magnets, they couldn't stay apart, and when Peck and her boyfriend broke up, they got back together — for good.
Their first year of marriage was filled with different challenges for the couple — who were used to seeing each other every day at the barre — with Peck in D.C. and Fairchild in Paris in a pre-Broadway engagement of An American in Paris. After becoming FaceTime's best customers, they have a renewed appreciation for their actual face-to-face time together in between ballet rehearsal and Fairchild's shows. For the latest installment of A Fine Showmance, Peck and Fairchild give Playbill.com a peek into their perfectly imperfect romance.
Did you guys have fun at the Tony Awards? It's kind of like Broadway's ultimate date night.
Robbie Fairchild: It was a crazy, crazy night. We don't have anything that really parallels that in the ballet world, so it was fun for us to share it together. Was that the craziest red carpet you have ever walked?
Tiler Peck: No. We went to Met ball this year, and that was crazy.
What's it like being the red carpet together? Do you like doing it?
RF: It's awkward.
TP: I think, "Thank God we're together." The only saving grace is that we have each other by our sides.
Did you go out after the Tony Awards?
RF: We went to the Tony after party and then we went to ours at Rock Center, but I was so exhausted, and she had a photo shoot the next day, so we retired around 2 AM.
That's still a good showing! Do you spend a lot of time dancing together at parties like that?
TP: That night we couldn't really because there was so many people coming up and talking to us, but usually if there's a dance floor, we're definitely on it.
Tiler, you made your Broadway debut in The Music Man when you were really young. Did you give Robbie any tips when he was approached with An American in Paris?
TP: I was like 11 years old [when I did The Music Man], so it was just really fun. When I was doing Little Dancer in [Washington] D.C. I felt more like I was doing a Broadway show eight times a week, which I think was more comparable to what he was doing, so I related to him more on that level.
RF: She helped navigate my schedule between City Ballet and An American in Paris. I would rehearse for An American in Paris during the day, and for City Ballet at night. She'd already done that when she was doing Little Dancer, so I felt like I could do it, because she had done it.
You guys met for the first time when Tiler was in The Music Man right?
TP: Yeah, we met in a jazz class at Steps on Broadway and then on that same trip, or very close after, he came to see The Music Man, because he was friends with another child in the show, ["So You Think You Can Dance's"] Travis Wall. When we all went out after the show we were like, "Didn't we just meet each other?"
What are the positives about meeting so young?
RF: We know each other so well. I feel like there are very few times where people who get married know what they were like when they were in junior high, what they were like in high school, and after that. You get a really good sense of the person's character and who they are.
TP: We were each other's first loves, so it's pretty awesome to feel like you married your first love.
Were you each other's first kiss as well?
TP: He was my first kiss, but I don't think I was his.
RF: I was a year and a half older!
Was it discouraged to date in the ballet world?
RF: You're rehearsing from 10:30 in the morning, and then performing until 10:30 at night. It really doesn't give you the chance to go out much and meet people, so a lot of relationships come out of the time spent at the theatre. I don't think many other work situations lend itself to so much time with one another. You get to know people, and I think it's great because you know what the other person is going through. You don't really need to ask them how their day went, because you know exactly how it went — you were there. I feel like we were really lucky to get all that time together. We would rehearse together, perform together. Now it's like sacred time when we're together, because we don't get to see each other as much as we used to, which feels weird, but this is like what everybody else goes through. This is what a normal relationship looks like, and it's so different for us. We were like, "This is how normal people see each other? They only see each other at night?" Yes, it's true! Was it a hard adjustment?
RF: I think it was just a weird adjustment. We were like, "Wait, why aren't you at the barre next to me? Why aren't we getting to dance with each other?" It's was also really nice because Tiler and I both went through our out-of-town tryouts for our shows at the same time. It's not like one was doing something that the other person wasn't, so we still knew what the other person was going through and could be there for each other.
But while Tiler was starring in Little Dancer in D.C., Robbie you were performing in An American in Paris in Paris. How did you make that work?
TP: I think we FaceTimed more than we ever have.
RF: Thank God for FaceTime. I don't know how people did it back in the day, when it was just your voice.
TP: We spoke to each other every day.
RF: Every day. And it was weird because the first time I would talk to her would be four in the afternoon because that's when she'd wake up. That was really hard. I felt like I spent so much of my day without her, and then we had such a short window before I went to bed. Then, from 7 PM on, she didn't have me to talk to, so we just tried to soak up that time. I feel like we got closer through it all though. We're stronger than we've ever been, so even though it's hard to be apart, I feel like we really worked at it, and are much closer together now.
You did get to reunite in Paris, but only for only one night, right? How long had it been since you'd seen each other when you got to Paris?
TP: I think there was a month when we didn't get to see each other. The day that I was in Paris we bought a Christmas tree together, and I got to see the opening [of An American in Paris]. It felt longer than a day, but I think it was also just crazy. I remember when we gave each other a hug, he felt so big.
RF: She felt so tiny. I started calling her peanut. It kind of stuck with me ever since.
Are you glad that you got married before you spent all of this time apart?
RF: One thing that was great was that you may not have the other person next to you, but you have a ring on your finger that they put on your hand, so you felt like there was some part of them that was there with you.
That is so romantic! What are your days like now that you're both back in the city, and Robbie is settling into life on Broadway? Do you still miss him at the ballet, Tiler?
TP: Yes I miss him. Obviously I would like to spend every minute with him, just because I have the most fun when he's with me, but at least now we get to see each other at some point during the day. Before we were just getting to see each other for an hour or an hour and a half at night, so I'm much more thankful for the schedule now.
How do you spend time together now?
RF: When we have earlier performances we usually go to a restaurant right around the corner and have dinner. On Sunday nights we get together with friends, maybe go see a show, and then Monday is pretty relaxing. We try to not do anything.
Your one year anniversary is coming up! Do you have plans?
RF: We're going to Greece!
TP: Well, that's our anniversary present, but on our actual anniversary we're going to stay at the Highline Hotel in the suite that I used to get ready in, and where we stayed on the night we got married, which will be really special.
You two have danced many pas de deuxs at City Ballet. Do you ever get to dance with each other now?
TP: No, not at all right now…
Is it hard to see each other dance with other people?
RF: Well, I've never been able to watch her kiss somebody else in the ballet. I always have to turn away, because I don't want to see that. But look at what Tiler has to watch you do in An American in Paris!
RF: She could just turn her eyes too. I never liked watching it, so I don't blame her for not wanting to watch it either.
TP: I felt like in the dance world it was different, because I was so used to it. People would ask about the touching and stuff, but when you're dancing you don't even notice it. It's just what you do all the time, but I would agree, I don't like having to watch him kiss somebody else.
What is the difference between dancing together as opposed to dancing with someone you're not in love with?
TP: I think it comes from a very honest place. We don't have to pretend at all when we dance together. People at City Ballet have always said they've enjoyed watching us dance, because you can tell how much we care about each other.
RF: I get more nervous with her than with anybody else, because I want her to have the best show. I stress a little bit more than I usually do, but it's because I want it to go really well.
TP: I agree.
What's been your favorite dance that you have done together?
RF: Probably "Who Cares?"
TP: It's this Gershwin/Balanchine ballet that we do at City Ballet. It's funny that it's Gershwin because you're doing American in Paris. We dance to "The Man I Love." It's something that we did before we were together, well I mean before we were officially together. We had been off and on, so it's always been a special pas de deux for us. It's something that I don't ever really want to do with anybody else.
Since you grew up together what changes have you noticed in each other as you've gotten older?
TP: He's still the goofy, funny person. He's become better at communicating, but he's still the same person, just more mature.
RF: I feel like she's the same person. She's grown and matured and all that stuff, but we still goof off in the same silly ways. Nothing has really changed, which is good because life's changing around us, but I don't feel like we're really changing.
Did you know that you would end up together when you met?
TP: I have a funny story about that. I remember one time we broke up when I was like 15 — he was always breaking up with me — but this time I was bawling to my grandma like, "He's the one grandma!" It was so dramatic, but I always knew that he was the one. We just had to work it out, and get on the same page — timing wise — but I think we both always knew that there was never another person for us.
RF: No one ever compared to her.
Did your family and friends think you were crazy, since you were so young and broke up several times?
TP: I think my grandma always knew that Robbie and I had something special, but my grandma also married her high-school sweetheart, so maybe that was why.
Were your friends supportive, Tiler, or were they telling you to go get someone else?
RF: They were like go get someone else.
TP: One of my girlfriends had a knee problem and we would always joke that she'd always be complaining about her knee and I would always be complaining about Robbie. When we did finally get together, everybody was like, "We knew that this day would come!" That felt good that people were kind of rooting for us. I'm glad you finally worked it out! What do you guys like to do when you're not performing?
TP: We like to play tennis.
RF: She likes to play tennis.
TP: We do!
RF: We like to play tennis.
TP: We like to hang out with our dogs — Robbie's is a toy Australian Shepard, and mine is Maltipoo. They're best friends.
RF: And lie around because we're always so active. It's nice just to do nothing.