Aah, showmances. A chance for all the Marias and Tonys and Kims and Chrises of the world to, as one friend put it, “get seriously invested in character development” for all the world to see (or at least your local theatre community).

Wikipedia (the oracle of all wisdom) defines showmances as “a romance that develops between two individuals in theatre, or on films and television series and between reality show contestants or participants for the running period of the show.”

Yes, they can be all-consuming at the time (not to mention a great way to potentially tell your grandkids how you met), but are they all they cracked up to be? I thought I’d investigate. However, never having had a showmance of my own (*insert Forever Alone meme here*) I exploited sought out the help from my friends to hear their trials and tribulations of a romance in the spotlight. Literally.

You get to show-off your best assets to prospective suitors.

When you got it, flaunt it – am I right? Well, not only does being in show business give you some pretty sweet skills (and for some of us, some pretty ripped washboard abs) but if you’re in the market for a new suitor, you get to show yourself off in a way that may be considered inappropriate if your place of work was, say, a bank. Or a kindergarten.

“There was a guy that I had been flirting with during a show, and in the show he had to do a tilt, which, considering his flexibility and VERY long legs, always drew my attention. It wasn’t until about a month after the show finished that we hung out again. Not to get too graphic, but we finally got to take advantage of his flexibility. In second splits”

Number 17, the spread eagle…

It’s basically speed dating.

We’ve all been there – that first day of rehearsals when you shake hands with everyone and say “nice to meet you! / I’m so excited about this project! / Look at me adult? See how well I am adulting!” and then its two weeks later and you’re you’re farting in front of each other? Imagine that, but with dating.

“The big contrast to normal every day life, I found, was how insanely quick you become close during a show. You’re kind of forced on each other, so much more than standard relationships. Rehearsals on top of normal dates sped up that ‘getting-to-know-you’ period – which, to be honest I kind of liked”

So if you’re time poor and would like to combine honing your craft with dating, maybe a showmance is the thing for you

BUT your love-life is everyone else’s gossip.

Like any office romance, it can be nice to bask in those furtive looks and knowing smiles your cast-mates give you and your new beau, but it can have its down-sides, privacy wise.

“One particular funny thing I remember happening was getting into costume, and pulling a shirt off – My back was completely covered in scratches. She got rather embarrassed, whilst everyone was laughing. It was actually quite funny”

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It has the potential to make your performance much better.

You don’t have to be Larry Moss to know that drawing on real-life experiences is essential for any performance. So what’s better than to look over at someone you’re supposed to be in love with and is supposed to be in love with you and know that you’re actually feeling those feels in real life? Not only can your on-stage chemistry sizzle, it can also help in rehearsal too.

“It was really nice having an acting partner that I was completely comfortable rehearsing with, without any form of judgement, just good constructive criticism”

But, of course, there can be downsides. It’s not all leg mounts and awesome chemistry. In some cases, it may make your performance much worse.

“There was a guy that I had a crush on in the show with me. On stage our parts were on top of a raised stage and we were quite in the audience’s eyes. Each night we had to pretend to fight over something. One night he decided to carry a prop violin on stage and I thought we would fight over who got the violin. Anyway, it got a little out of hand, and as I was trying to snatch it, it fell from both our hands and down the raised stage and made a ridiculous crash on the floor. Everyone heard. We never spoke again”.

It’s called a SHOW-mance for a reason.

In any industry, working super-long hours and going through stressful periods can definitely bring people together, but the erratic lifestyle and hectic periods of tech and show-life can often warp reality. And also not many other industries involve you repeatedly kissing your co-workers as part of the job. It may seem like a blossoming romance under the spotlight, but it might look different in the harsh light of day.

“I think, in order for an actor to completely embody their character with truth and honesty, sometimes the line between reality and work can become blurry. Especially in highly intimate scenes.

I was cast opposite a guy as one of the most iconic romantic couples in one of the most well-known musicals out there. We started crushing on each other, and by the end of the show’s run we were officially dating. Cut to when he ended up playing the same role in a different production of the show (which I wasn’t in) and ended up getting with the girl playing opposite him (again, not me).
I know he and I loved each other outside of our love interest on stage, but I’m not sure we would have pursued a relationship if it wasn’t for the show.”

Ouch.

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And it has the potential to get real awkward if it doesn’t work out.

Break-ups suck. We all know it. But one of the saving graces is being able to completely block them (and all memories of them) out of your mind. But just imagine, not only having to work together afterwards, but your salary and pride resting on how believably you play BFFs. Yep. Shit.

“Picture this: I’m Marius, and in a long-term relationship with Enjorlas. During the rehearsal period, Enjorlas starts having an affair with Combeferre. Right before opening night, he breaks up with me, and I have to complete the entire reason playing his best friend on-stage, while completely being a wreck backstage, watching him canoodle around with the guy playing Combeferre! It was intense to say the least”.

Turns out a lot of shit went down on that barricade.

So there you have it – a little low-down on the showmance phenomenon. Personally, I’ve seen showmances end in marriage. But I’ve also seen them end in tears, tantrums and (evidently) a broken violin and several very upset Opera singers. The choice is yours – enter at your own risk.

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