Gilbert actors Jason Fleck and Jeannie Shubitz are starring as newlyweds Michael and Agnes in the musical “I Do! I Do!” kicking off Thursday at Sunland Village East in Mesa.
The show starts on the couple’s wedding day and traces their life over the course of 50 years, ending with them moving out of their home to make room for the next pair of newlyweds.
It’s not a far cry from the actors’ real lives.
Fleck and Shubitz, who are married, plan to pack up and head east following their final performance, seeking greener pastures in the mecca of musical theater, New York City.
“We’re literally closing the show,” says Shubitz, 33.
There’s no business like show business
Aside from having more opportunities to audition, actors in New York are paid more and are a part of an elaborate infrastructure that supports the feast or famine industry, says the couple, who have lived and worked in theater in that city before.
However, more opportunity comes at a price. They will probably not have the luxury of working together — as they often have on Valley stages — or spend much time together. They could be spending as much as a year apart to perform in shows abroad.
“You take the good with the bad,” they agree.
Shubitz is anxious to move back. Having only spent five years in New York previously, her Broadway career had barely taken root before she returned to the Valley.
The Tucson native graduated from the University of Arizona with hopes of being an opera singer. But after auditioning for “Show Boat” and being cast on the spot by director Seth Reines, Shubitz says she was seduced by musical theater. She’s been in about 30 shows since then, including “The Light in the Piazza,” “My Fair Lady” and “Carousel.”
Fleck, who graduated from Arizona State University with a musical theater degree, launched his professional theater career with a title-role performance in “Phantom,” a musical based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel “The Phantom of the Opera.” More than 75 shows later, Fleck’s proudest accomplishments include “Show Boat,” directed by Hal Prince, “Kiss Me, Kate” and “Evita.”
The pair moved back to the Arizona as newlyweds three years ago to be with their families and “settle down,” they say. Fleck, 42, took up teaching drama and voice at Desert Hills High School in Gilbert.
“I tried to go straight,” he says, but as the Irving Berlin idiom goes, “there’s no business like show business.” After just one year, Fleck returned to acting.
No shortage of talent
“I Do! I Do!,” is directed by Reines, former artistic producer at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, and presented by Showtune Productions, a local company founded last year by Reines and musical director J.R. McAlexander. Showtune has presented approximately 60 shows around the Valley and has eight productions booked for next season, Reines says.
He’d like to have Fleck and Shubitz back for the occasional acting gig in their home state.
“Jason and Jeannie are amazing,” he says. “Their quality and talent is really, really good.”
But Fleck says he and Shubitz will not leave a void in the Valley’s theater scene.
“There is not a shortage of talent in the Valley, and no one is irreplaceable,” Fleck says. “We’ll miss the Valley more than the Valley will miss us.”
If you go
What: The Broadway musical comedy “I Do! I Do!”
When: 2 p.m. June 21 and 23, 7 p.m. June 22 and 23
Where: Sunland Village East Auditorium, 8026 E. Lakeview Ave., Mesa
Information: (480) 380-0106 or www.showtuneproductions.com