As the performing arts industry grapples with how and when to return to entertaining audiences safely, Meghan Ames and Christopher Kehoe are looking forward to sharing the stage together this summer — a notable change from their long-distance, pandemic-marked relationship.
Ames and Kehoe will play the characters of Miranda and Ferdinand in Vashon Repertory Theatre’s production of “The Tempest,” by William Shakespeare, July 23 to Aug. 1, at Open Space for Arts & Community.
The couple first met in France, in October of 2019, as students of Ecole Philippe Gaulier in France.
Gaulier’s alumni number in the thousands, but his best-known former students include actors Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Emma Thompson.
After the relationship between Kehoe and Ames bloomed that fall, they made plans to meet again in the United States in March of 2020 — because Ames was returning to the United States, and Vashon, in late December. Kehoe had planned to stay in France for the entire 2019/2020 academic year.
The pandemic intervened in multiple ways — Kehoe’s continuing classes were first interrupted, as France entered lockdown, and Ames, back on Vashon, saw her life as a performer shut down as theaters closed and gatherings cease.
It turned out the couple couldn’t meet again until June of 2020, when Kehoe was finally able to fly to Vashon to reunite with Ames for two months, before flying back to France.
Ames joined him there again in January of 2021 when she resumed classes at the school as well.
In early 2021, Vashon Repertory Theatre announced it was holding auditions via Zoom for “The Tempest” as part of its first-annual Vashon Theatre Fest. Ames and Kehoe claimed audition time slots around midnight, France time, and were both cast in lead roles.
“Both Christopher and Meghan gave great auditions,” said Darragh Kennan, director of “The Tempest.” “There were a number of roles that either of them could have been cast in.”
Even though the play will be performed outdoors, COVID considerations added a layer of safety concerns for actors rehearsing and performing in proximity.
“How do you stage a love story while keeping the actors six feet apart?” Kennan asked. “Christopher and Meghan’s real-life relationship solved that problem automatically.”
“The Tempest” tells the story of an exiled Duke conjuring a storm to intentionally wreck the ship of his enemies. The survivors are scattered across the enchanted island. Ferdinand, the Prince of Naples (played by Kehoe), falls in love with Miranda (played by Ames), the daughter of the Duke who has never seen a man from off-island before.
The show marks the first time the couple will act together onstage — another first and twist in their relationship.
Vashon Repertory Theatre’s “The Tempest” runs from July 23–August 1, at Open Space for Arts & Community. For more information and tickets, visit vashonrepertorytheatre.org.