She Will Always Be My Leading Lady – Evan Soutter

Summer of 2014, I was fresh off my first Musical Theatre production ever and looking to chase that with the next big show that the Northumberland Players would be putting on. That show just so happened to be Les Miserables. After auditioning, I got the call to say I had gotten the role of Marius on the condition that I would undergo vocal training with Marie Anderson, the show’s musical director. Talk about a win-win!

Evan Soutter, left, in Les Miserables.

As the rehearsals went on, my voice, acting and confidence had all grown exponentially, and I felt comfortable with pretty much every person in the cast… Except for one.

Marley (my now wife) and I had shared all of 2 encounters through the rehearsal process. The first needs a foreword; when Marley isn’t focused on anything, her face takes on a stern façade (the youths have the term Resting ‘B’ Face). So, one rehearsal I was chatting with some of my castmates and I told what would now be called a ‘dad joke’. I was rather pleased with the pun and the castmates I was with humored me with a light laugh, and I turned and saw Marley sitting 5 feet away looking thoroughly unimpressed (I later found out she was entirely spaced out and never heard my wit, but at the time? If looks could not find a joke funny… That was the look). The second interaction was her telling me that someone I knew worked at her cousin’s store. I know… Fireworks, right?

The true fireworks didn’t come until late January when the cast had to rehearse the one and only real dance sequence in the whole 3-hour show. Marley was a natural, she had the waltz steps down before Alina (show choreographer) had finished showing us it. I… Was not so gifted, my partner and I could not get the hang of it.

It got so bad that after a few rehearsals, Alina decided to have Marley and her partner switch with my partner and myself. I have never been so lucky to have two left feet. We had this instant dance connection, what wasn’t working between my partner and I, worked seamlessly with her.

A few of us from the cast went to a local fast-food eatery that night, Marley and I talked the whole time. We added each other on social media that night and we haven’t gone a day without talking since that night. We had gone from 5 words and one misread facial expression, to inseparable within the span of one night.

Evan and Marley Soutter in The Drowsy Chaperone

I found out later that she had originally been considered for the role of Cosette, my character’s love interest and (spoiler alert) ultimately wife. Well, we had to wait two years to say “I do” off stage and then another two years after that to say “I do” on stage when we were cast as fiancees in the Northumberland Players production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

Through all that, regardless of if we’re in a show, waiting for the next one to come along, or performing on stage, since that night she has been and always will be my leading lady.