On Sept. 26, 2021, Colin Ernest Barkell noticed Kayla Dianne Pecchioni stroking her hairless kitten at a screening of the Tony Awards. He was immediately attracted. Particularly to the cat.
Within the lounge of the Chicago house constructing the place theater followers had gathered for the present, “I used to be like, ‘I must see this man’,” he mentioned of the creature. By the point “Moulin Rouge!” had racked up its remaining award that night time, he was midway in love with the blanket-swaddled kitten in Ms. Pecchioni’s arms. Three nights later, he fell absolutely in love with Ms. Pecchioni.
Mr. Barkell and Ms. Pecchioni, who reside in Harlem, are performing artists. She is at the moment the swing position and an understudy for the character Sugar Kane in Broadway’s “Some Like It Scorching.” Earlier than he shaped the rock band King Vaudeville final yr, he was knowledgeable Irish dancer.
Their meet-up within the foyer of Marquee at Block 37 flats was not random: That September, each had been forged in “Paradise Sq.,” a musical that began its run in Chicago earlier than transferring to Broadway in April 2022. Every had made their option to the foyer for the Tonys screening with their castmates 12 days into rehearsals.
For Ms. Pecchioni, 31, the viewing get together had given rise to dueling instincts. “It was our first alternative to hang around as a forged, which was nice,” she mentioned. However the gathering in an unfamiliar metropolis with a roomful of newish faces was additionally anxiousness producing. Paw McCatney, the kitten she had adopted 4 months earlier as an emotional assist animal to assist her via the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, helped with that. A hairless cat, she mentioned, is a dependable dialog starter.
“It’s 50-50 for folks,” she mentioned. “They’re both, ‘I’m very intrigued!’ or ‘Get that factor away from me.’” That Mr. Barkell so immediately positioned himself within the former class certified him as new pal materials straight away.
Ms. Pecchioni is from Louisville, Ky. Till she was 4, she lived together with her maternal grandparents, Andrea and Frank Pecchioni, so her mom, Deedee Cummings, might end her bachelor’s diploma at Bennett School. “I had this enjoyable hippie life with my grandparents,” she mentioned. “We’d backyard and take heed to the Beatles. It was very, very pretty.”
Quickly after Ms. Cummings earned her diploma and returned to Louisville, she met Ms. Pecchioni’s stepfather, Anthony Cummings. She has two youthful brothers, Anthony II and Nicholas.
Two years of acting on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises adopted, one thing she might have executed without end, she mentioned. “The one factor that broke me out of it was my mother sort of tapping me on the shoulder and saying, ‘You might have greater targets.’”
In 2016, she moved to Inwood, in Manhattan, and days later booked her first gig as a singer with the Radio Metropolis Christmas Spectacular. A yr later, she landed a number one position taking part in Nabulungi in “The Guide of Mormon.”
In lean instances, earlier than she was forged in “Paradise Sq.,” she labored retail jobs at shops together with Lululemon. Her social life didn’t slip via the cracks. “I dated loads” in New York she mentioned. “However I at all times dated with the intention of discovering my particular person, and nothing ever actually caught.”
On Tonys night time in Chicago, she didn’t see Mr. Barkell as a possible boyfriend. She had seen him on day one in every of rehearsals, first due to his top — Mr. Barkell is six-foot-six — after which due to his baritone voice, which everybody else paid consideration to, too. “It’s one thing the complete room took discover of, like ‘Who is that this particular person?’” she mentioned. However “I used to be like, he’s only a man, you realize?’” As soon as he had established his appreciation for Paw McCatney, he grew to become only a man she trusted sufficient to escort her on a sightseeing tour round Chicago.
Mr. Barkell, 32, was born in Lengthy Seashore, Calif., and moved to Sterling, Va., together with his mother and father, Leland and Nancy Barkell, and older sister, Erin, in the beginning of highschool for his father’s profession as lieutenant colonel within the U.S. Marines. Although the household is “barely Irish,” he mentioned, he had taken just a few Irish dance classes earlier than he left California. As a youngster, he picked it up once more, enrolling in courses on the Maple Academy of Irish Dance in close by Vienna.
“It was one thing I actually liked to do, regardless that it’s not essentially one thing that comes naturally to a tall particular person as a result of there’s stability and coordination concerned,” he mentioned.
At first he struggled to search out his footing. However by 2012, when he moved to Galway, Eire, for 2 years to additional his dance research, he had gained a number of regional championships. A yr later, he positioned eighth within the World Irish Dancing Championships. His 2016 bachelor’s diploma in geography and geographical info sciences from George Mason College took him seven years to finish. “I stored leaving to do dance,” he mentioned.
Like Ms. Pecchioni, he carried out on cruise traces after faculty and later bounced between New York and Nashville working as a dancer and singer. Then, in 2021, “I received this loopy alternative to be in a Broadway present, which wasn’t on my radar as one thing to pursue,” he mentioned. The chance landed due to his background: “Paradise Sq.,” set within the Civil Struggle period, is about an intersecting neighborhood of free Black folks and Irish immigrants in New York’s 5 Factors neighborhood.
On assembly Ms. Pecchioni in Chicago, his first thought wasn’t that they need to date. “It’s such a curler coaster,” he mentioned of his profession, that relationship anybody with intention appeared practically inconceivable. However he modified his thoughts shortly on Sept. 29, when he arrived at her short-term digs for his or her tour of town.
Mr. Barkell will get choked up on the reminiscence of the music she was taking part in when he knocked. “No means,” he mentioned, when she opened the door. “You’re taking part in Nickelback?” Ms. Pecchioni braced herself for what she thought could be a polarizing dialog. “For no matter purpose, it’s at all times been enjoyable for folks to hate Nickelback,” she mentioned. However “I frigging love Nickelback.” Identical with Mr. Barkell: “I mentioned, ‘These guys have had hit after hit. They’re bangers. They need to be revered.’”
Ms. Pecchioni describes herself as “an enormous music particular person.” Therefore Paw McCatney, a nod to her lifelong love of the Beatles, launched to her by her grandparents. Mr. Barkell can be a Beatles fan. However each contemplate the Nickelback second a defining one.
“That was the spark,” she mentioned. “There was a fast swap the place it went from attending to know one another to one thing else.” At Chicago’s Riverwalk, over beers on the Northman Beer & Cider Backyard, they established that each have been single. Earlier than they walked house, he kissed her. Then “it was, I’m going to spend day by day together with her. I knew it and I very practically mentioned that,” he mentioned.
Per week and a half later, he instructed her he was in love together with her. “A day after that I mentioned, ‘So, you wish to be my girlfriend?’” Falling for Ms. Pecchioni had delivered him readability. “For me it was, ‘Oh, so that is what it’s alleged to really feel like.’” Ms. Pecchioni felt the identical.
“Paradise Sq.” ran in Chicago till early December. For the vacations, the couple highway tripped to Nashville, the place Mr. Barkell was performing with a band that predated King Vaudeville, after which to Louisville and Calumet, Mich., the place Mr. Barkell’s mother and father had retired. Each had given their households a heads-up concerning the seriousness of their romance. A way of prompt acceptance greeted them in each hometowns. “Every thing naturally fell into place,” Ms. Pecchioni mentioned. “That’s the theme of our entire relationship.”
When the present made its Broadway debut final yr, Mr. Barkell moved into Ms. Pecchioni and Paw’s Harlem house. When it closed in July, he was already planning to suggest. His mother and father knew a jeweler in Michigan who helped him design a diamond and blue topaz toi et moi ring; on Oct. 3, after an evening spent performing Irish dance at a charity occasion at Chelsea Manufacturing facility, he introduced it of their lounge.
“He was crying and I used to be screaming,” Ms. Pecchioni mentioned. Her pleasure apart, it wasn’t the proposal she had imagined. In her fantasy model, she appeared down at her suitor as he dropped to 1 knee. In actual life, “he’s so tall we have been nonetheless eye-to-eye.”
On Oct. 8, Ms. Pecchioni and Mr. Barkell have been married at Hazelnut Farm in Louisville. Derwin Webb, a Pecchioni household pal and a choose of the Jefferson County Courtroom, officiated a conventional ceremony for 140 company that included a number of former “Paradise Sq.” castmates.
When Mr. Webb pronounced them married, they appeared out on a sea of damp-eyed, cheering family members. With a double-fist bump and comfortable tears of their very own, the couple recessed down the grassy aisle to what each thought of the position of a lifetime: as companions for all times.
On This Day
When Oct. 8, 2023
The place Hazelnut Farm, Louisville, Ky.
They’re the Tops At a cocktail hour steps from the altar, company have been proven Southern hospitality within the type of a grazing desk piled with contemporary fruit, cheeses and caviar. For dinner, they selected from beef tenderloin and rooster piccata. Dessert was a strawberry cake topped with a Polaroid image of the couple of their wedding ceremony garments (a Martina Liana robe for her; a black tuxedo for him). “We at all times needed to appear to be the cake topper couple at our wedding ceremony,” Ms. Pecchioni mentioned.
From Day 1 Kennedy Caughell, a “Paradise Sq.” castmate and wedding ceremony visitor, was there the night time the couple bonded on the 2021 Tony Awards. Again in Chicago, “I watched their love develop from this sort of nervous affection for one another to falling head over heels,” she mentioned. As a pair, “they warmth up a room.”