Director Kathleen Marshall knows a thing or two about chemistry—both onstage and off. Many a successful showmance have blossomed throughout her productions, including one between Margo Seibert (the breakout star from Broadway’s Rocky) and Kevin Munhall (last seen on Broadway in Allegiance). Seibert played Danielle in the Paper Mill Playhouse premiere of the musical Ever After—a slightly more grounded Cinderella adaptation based off the 1998 Drew Barrymore film—and Munhall was the production’s dance captain. Marshall added in a last-minute, lift-heavy dance number, and sparks flew when Seibert was literally in Munhall’s hands.
One year later, and Seibert and Munhall experience their first time apart as Seibert stars as Cathy in The Last Five Years at A.C.T. in San Francisco and Munhall dances in the world premiere of Anastasia at Hartford Stage. Though 3,000 miles apart, Seibert and Munhall stay connected with long hand-written letters and care packages filled with Cholula Hot Sauce.
How did you spark a romantic connection in Ever After?
Margo Seibert: We have to kind of give credit to Kathleen Marshall there…
Kevin Munhall: Yeah it’s funny because my good friend, Jess Stone, who I did Anything Goes with, met her husband, Chris Fitzgerald, doing a show at Encores! with Kathleen Marshall, and she’d always tell me how Kathleen was really good at creating phenomenal casts that get along really well and that a lot of people have found their significant others doing her shows. That’s always been in the back of my mind. Then low and behold this happened to me, and I was like, “She is good!”
MS: I had never met Kevin before, and, once we were well into the rehearsal process, Kathleen mentioned that I had a big old dance number that I didn’t know about. Kevin was the dance captain on the show and had to help teach me and cement the dance into my mind. He was kind enough to meet with me before rehearsal and on breaks to help me not look like a fool. That was very attractive and very helpful. Thank you, Kevin!
KM: No problem. It was solely for the good of the show. Not because I liked you at all.
And now, Margo is taking engagement photos with someone else to promote The Last Five Years! Kevin, you made light of it on Instagram, but does it bother you when your girlfriend is doing such a romantic show across the country?
KM: This is something that we’ve always kind of [talked about]. We had one memorable breakfast when we first started dating where we talked through this whole issue for a couple of hours. It’s hard for people on the outside to really understand what it is, because if you’re really going to be there and be present in a performance there is something real that does happen. Clearly, it’s not going to interfere with a relationship every single time, but the person you’re with has to at least understand and be okay with what that is. We got on the same page about that very early on. One thing that was very attractive was how she could be simultaneously understanding and slightly jealous at the same time. That’s a wonderful balance to have. Someone who gets it and still gets a little angry that makes you feel good about yourself a little bit. But our relationship has been built on so much honesty from the very beginning that we are able to talk about it instead of it being this awkward thing.
MS: That’s pretty rare, due to the kind of careers that we have. When we’re dealing in emotions and Kevin is a beautiful performer and a beautiful dancer and is always lifting tiny ballerina girls above his head and they’re like rubbing on his body, and I’m just like…
KM: Professionally. Not in life!
MS: But when you trust somebody to have your full body weight and to take care of you and not drop you, there’s a certain intimacy there. There’s also obviously this intimacy if you’re having an emotional journey with someone in a show and you fall in love with them. You are exploring, and the lines become blurry. I think that’s something that we don’t talk about enough in our careers, so in the beginning it was amazing to have a really honest conversation about what this truly is; why it gets messy and how we can help it not get secretive. That was incredibly helpful.
Anastasia and The Last Five Years began on almost the same night on opposite ends of the country. Is it really hard when you’re both having such big moments 3,000 miles away from each other?
KM: It’s definitely a challenge. We were really lucky. For the first year of our relationship we were together constantly. I was doing Allegiance [on Broadway], and Margo was doing just about every reading and workshop that existed in New York. This is really our first time being apart for a long period of time, so it’s helpful that we both have really exciting things to distract us. The time change is just killer for an after-show [catch up]. When I get out of my show she’s just starting hers, so I’ve started writing letters. That’s something I hadn’t done recently.
MS: My cast and designers were like, “What is that?” And I’m like, “It’s an eight-page letter from my boyfriend.” They couldn’t believe that that happens anymore.
KM: I’m in Hartford, CT, and it’s a very old-timey, old-fashioned place.
And Anastasia takes place in the early 1900s when they definitely still wrote letters…
KM: Right. I’m just getting into character.
Are you going to be able to see each other’s shows?
MS: Kevin can’t come see The Last Five Years, but I can come to Anastasia at the end of the run, so I’m excited about that.
KM: It’s great, but I would much rather be able to go see her show then have her come see mine.
Why is that?
KM: Have you ever seen her? She’s incredible. I rarely come across a performer that is able to—and this is before I started dating her—open up that little part of my heart that never opens and make me feel things that I don’t want to feel. Afterwards I’m like a new person.
That’s such a great review!
KM: I know it sounds like I’m biased, and maybe now I am, but I wasn’t always.
Margo, had you seen Kevin perform before you started dating?
MS: I had not. I’m so sorry, babe. But what I actually really enjoyed [during Ever After] was watching how seriously he takes his job. He takes a lot of pride in it and takes a leadership role. When somebody is really good at what they do it’s always attractive. I was like, “Okay, that guy’s on it. He’s going to eventually help me water my plants and take out my compost.”
KM: That’s no joke. I finished up our second show last night, and then drove back to New York, so that I could water her plants. That’s teamwork right there.
MS: I’m over here not doing anything.
Just taking engagement photos with other guys.
MS: Getting married every night.
KM: And not to me.
MS: It doesn’t end well though, babe.