The irony is not lost on Stephanie Gibson and Andrew Pastides: On July 1, they got married, and now, just a few months later, they will play the roles of Maggie and Brick in Tennessee Williams’ multi-layered family drama “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at Baltimore Center Stage.
“People laugh that two months after our honeymoon, we are acting in the most dysfunctional marriage,” Pastides admits. But neither actor could pass up the chance to play opposite each other for the first time in this “huge American play.”
“We never imagined it,” Gibson says.
The New York-based couple has been together for three years, but crossed paths before that when Gibson was auditioning for a film role and Pastides was her reader. She booked the role – “I owe it to him” – but the two didn’t actually meet in person until they were set up by mutual friends, who agree to go on a double date with them.
Their union is the perfect backstory to the play, Gibson and Pastides agree. While Maggie’s and Brick’s own marriage is less than ideal, to show such discord requires a lot of agreement.
“We might be showing dysfunction, but underneath of that is a lot of function,” Pastides says
Gibson agrees, saying “grounded safety” is required to portray the “flipping and switching” of these “complex” characters.
“It’s very exciting. The entire first act is just Andrew and me (with quick appearances from other characters). It’s like one extended scene that lasts an hour. You really have to be on your toes as an actor with this one,” she says.
After weeks of rehearsals, there are still moments when a bit of dialogue resonates in a new way for each of them. That’s why the play, which opened on Broadway in 1955, holds up so well, they say.
“There’s so much material,” Pastides says. “We are so gray inside. There are the lies we tell publicly and our secret truths.”
In November, Gibson will star in a one-woman show at Feinstein’s 54 Below in New York and the couple will return to the daily life of auditions. For now, they will welcome family from all over the country for this show and savor their roles together – onstage and behind the scenes.
“We’re so consumed by the beauty of this,” Gibson says.
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” Baltimore Center Stage, Sept.13-Oct. 14, centerstage.org