When Broadway Shuttered, Her Next Act Was an Improv Proposal

Miki Alden Abraham didn’t show off her acting chops when she asked her former castmate Alex Joseph Grayson to marry her on Oct. 15, 2020. At the time, she was spooning something out of a crockpot in the Nashville apartment that they shared and thinking life couldn’t get much worse.

Covid-19 had delivered blow after blow, said Ms. Abraham, who is currently a swing in Broadway’s “Shucked.” New York City theaters had shut down. Both had lost jobs. “I was stirring whatever I was making and eating out of the pot and I thought, ‘You made it through all this with this guy,’” she said. Mr. Grayson, ambushed by the proposal on a pass through the kitchen, said yes not knowing whether she was serious.

Ms. Abraham, 31, and Mr. Grayson, 33, met on Sept. 6, 2019, on the first day of rehearsals for the national tour of the musical “Once on This Island” at Boulevard Carroll Studios in Manhattan. Both were understudies for multiple roles. When the cast hit the road a few days later, Mr. Grayson, who is now playing the principal role of Jim Conley in the Broadway revival of “Parade,” was getting on Ms. Abraham’s nerves.

“I was not looking to make any new best friends,” she said. “I was trying to do my job. But everywhere I turned, Alex was there. It was annoying.” Mr. Grayson hadn’t meant to be overly friendly. But “when I enter a new environment, I try to engage with as many people as I can,” he said. “I want to indicate, ‘I’m open to collaboration. I’m a person you can talk to throughout this contract.’”

She remained in eye-rolling mode until what she called her “talent crush” kicked in that December. At a karaoke bar between performances in Charlotte, N.C., Mr. Grayson sang “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train. The song didn’t suit his vocal range. “It was a little high for him,” Ms. Abraham said. “But the way he was navigating it — musically, intelligently — I thought, whoa, he somehow made the song sound better.”

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By the time the show shut down a few months later because of Covid, they were in love. Both left behind apartments in Brooklyn to quarantine at an Airbnb in Paducah, Ky. For Ms. Abraham, it was a homecoming: She grew up in Paducah and graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from Northern Kentucky University.

For Mr. Grayson, who was born in Watertown, N.Y., and raised in a military family that moved frequently, it was a way to keep Ms. Abraham close. “From the beginning, I felt like, this is a person who has a great personality and is beautiful and funny,” said Mr. Grayson, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2014. “Miki has tremendous magnetism,” he said.

A shared sense of hope was behind their July 2020 move from Paducah to Nashville. If the world opened up, they wanted to be in a city that could put entertainers to work. But Covid was still raging and jobs were sparse when, three months later, Ms. Abraham had her crockpot moment in the kitchen. “We had 10 minutes of going back and forth” about the proposal, Mr. Grayson said. “I said, ‘Is this real? You mean right now?’” She didn’t mean right then. But if she had, he still would have said yes.

“We’ve gone through all the lows, we go so well together,” she said, explaining her improv proposal. “Maybe this is who I want to be with.”

Ms. Abraham and Mr. Grayson were married on April 8 at the Conservatory Garden in Central Park — close to the apartment they moved into in June 2021, when Broadway was showing signs of returning to life. A friend and fellow actor, Richard E. Waits, who became a Universal Life Church minister for the occasion, officiated a short outdoor ceremony for 60 guests.

At a reception at the Lofts at Prince, an events space in Manhattan, the couple sang a karaoke duet of Dan + Shay’s “Speechless” — nodding to their Nashville past and Ms. Abraham’s present in the country music filled “Shucked.”. Otherwise, the couple avoided anything performative on their wedding day. “When you’re doing eight shows a week, that thirst is quenched,” Mr. Grayson said. “This was more about sharing a sweet moment.”

Sumber: www.nytimes.com