Every night around 9:30 PM Donald Webber, Jr. waits by the phone. He’s expecting a call from his wife Rebecca Covington Webber, who is currently on tour with Beautiful. She always likes to hear his voice during the show’s intermission. It’s little gestures like these—plus trips to BBQ joints in St. Louis, Bulls games in Chicago, and Disney World in Orlando—that get them through spending the first year of their marriage apart.
Between phone calls, Webber takes care of their French bull dog, Ella, and travels with the Broadway Boys—a boy-band-like group that gives showtunes a pop spin. The couple first met at a reading of Motown The Musical and started dating during the Broadway production. As they approach their one-year anniversary June 22, the couple reminisce about the mini Motown revival at their wedding and their favorite memories from Webber’s regular appearances on the Beautiful tour route.
How long has it been since you’ve seen each other?
Rebecca Covington Webber: This is actually our longest stretch of being apart. This is week two. I usually try to fly home on Mondays, or Donald will be so gracious and spend a lot of time out on the road in the random cities that I’m in.
How has it been spending your newlywed year apart?
RCW: It has its challenges, of course, but we’re just trying to invest in our future, and being on the road presented opportunities for us to be able to buy a house at some point. We’ve been looking at houses in Jersey.
Donald Webber: The follow-up article will have to be at our house with pictures…
RCW: Then you can ask how tour was and I’ll be like, “Well, you can see it was amazing!” But in terms of me and Donald and our relationship, it has allowed us to communicate more, which I love. I’m learning to express myself more. When you’re actually together you have a different type of communication, so we’ve been able to really explore our ways of communicating—personally, and as a couple. We’re growing together in a different way than we would if we were having the “normal” newlywed life.
What are some specific things that have gotten you through the long distance?
DW: I love that every night around the same time I’m going to get a phone call, because it’s intermission. I look forward to intermission in Beautiful 2,000 miles away, because I know my wife is going to call me.
RCW: I like traveling with pictures and little reminders. I have a pillow that Donald’s mom gave me that has our faces on it, and I cuddle with at night. Family is everything to me and so forming this new family with Donald is just the best thing. We really try not to focus on the things that we hate about being apart.
On that note, what’s been one of your favorite memories that you have from when Donald has come to visit?
RCW: Watching Kobe [Bryant]’s last game made me really thankful that we happened to be in Chicago when [the Lakers] played the Bulls. We splurged and bought tickets, because I had never seen Kobe play live. Donald was born and raised in L.A., and Kobe is basketball in L.A., so it was really important for me to experience that with him.
DW: She was in Chicago [for our engagement anniversary in December] and I surprised her in the morning by setting up games all over the apartment. We had Trouble, Connect Four, Monopoly, Scrabble, and we went around and played them all. We’re goofy and silly, and we love game night.
RCW: We’re looking forward to making more plans. Donald is a huge fan of the newly-formed L.A. [formerly St. Louis] Rams. When he came to visit in St. Louis we had to go to every sports store to look for any left over Rams merchandise that did not say St. Louis. We came home with face masks, lanyards, sweatshirts, T-shirts… The NFL schedule was released yesterday and their first regular season game is against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night football when Beautiful is scheduled to be in San Francisco.
DW: So guess who will be at the game?
RCW: I guess one of us will have to wear the face mask that we bought in St. Louis… It’s just really exciting to be able to have something like that to look forward to.
When you see each other for the first time after being away for a week or two, is there a big reunion scene at the airport?
DW: It’s what you would expect to see in a movie: Everything slows down and you start to hear the songs play. We jump up and down. We cheer. It’s a big deal.
RCW: I normally pick him up in my sweatshirt that says “Team Webber” which was also a gift from his mom. She loves personalized gifts. It’s the best.
You’re about to celebrate one year of marriage. What was your wedding like?
RCW: Our wedding was pretty much a concert. We hired a live band called the Hudson Project that is fronted by Andrea Dora, who was in Motown. Andrea put together the night for us, and we had a lot of people sing. Patrice Covington and Ryan Shaw sang during our ceremony, but then at our reception…
DW: It was like a Who’s Who of Broadway.
RCW: Charl Brown, Jesse Nager, Krystal Joy [Brown], Chaz Shepherd, Mykal Kilgore, Tracy McDowell, Marva Hicks, Preston Boyd, Dominic Noli and Brandon Victor Dixon all sang.
I would have bought tickets to this!
RCW: I know! And it was mostly a surprise. Andrea had contacted a lot of our friends and asked them if they felt like performing and everyone said yes, so it literally was surprise, after surprise, after surprise.
Did they sing any songs from Motown?
RCW: Yes there was a whole Motown medley. [Andrea] called me up and I had to sing “Please, Mr. Postman” and then Brandon sang “Get Ready.” All the girls who were the Marvelettes with me sang from Motown, but no one really knows the whole song, because there’s only snippets in Motown! Saycon [Sengbloh] sang “Dancing in the Street,” and all the dancers were doing the choreography. It was awesome. Our friends showed us so much love.