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Case Study #1
THE COUPLE: Paula Scrofano and John Reeger have appeared on Chicago-area stages since 1974 and have acted together in some 40 productions. They celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary this year. Reeger is currently appearing in Heartbreak House at Writers’ Theatre, and Scrofano will be in Broadway Bound at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oak Brook.
SETTING THE SCENE The couple met in 1969 as Northwestern University freshmen in a Drama as Literature class. For their first date, they saw the only movie that was playing in Evanston—The Boston Strangler. “It had to be uphill after that,” says Reeger.
THE KISS The first private kiss led to countless onstage ones. While Reeger and Scrofano don’t recall if they kissed in their first show together, a self-produced student effort directed by Frank Galati, they did kiss in a later college performance of I Do! I Do! “We’ve done that show four times,” says Reeger—first at Northwestern, then in summer stock; they reprised their roles 16 years later at Pheasant Run and another 16 years after that at Drury Lane. “We had to run to make our entrances and exits, so we decided we’re getting way too old for this,” he says, as both laugh.
ONSTAGE They shared a duet in Baby in 1997 as a middle-aged couple who find themselves expecting a baby late in life. “It was great, and I remember it fueling our love,” says Scrofano. “We were married for a long time, and we weren’t newly lustful, and I loved having that kiss and [the feeling of] giving yourself over to someone you really love. I remember feeling you have to make time for those kisses that don’t come as spontaneously as they used to.”
AND ABOUT THAT STAGE KISS (THE MORNING AFTER) “Showmances happen all the time,” says Scrofano. “So many people in our business fall in love with their leading lady or their leading man, and people say, ‘Why did it happen?’ And I say, ‘Why wouldn’t it happen when you go to work every day and practice falling in love with someone?’” The couple agree that showmances are more likely on the road, so they made “a conscious choice” to stay close to home and rear their children. “We were able to keep working in Chicago and to see each other every day, often 24-7,” says Reeger. “That’s the way we like it.”
Photograph: Brian Kuhlmann; Assistants: Colin Beckett, Sean Costin; Styling: Joslyn Beta Lawrence; Hair and Makeup: Lia Rivette
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