A group of actors and technicians was gathered in an Irvine Valley College parking lot when a man rolled up in a wheelchair.
He approached Kyle Seitz, a member of "The Philadelphia Story" cast, identified himself as Derek and requested help to cross the street. Seitz, who played reporter Macaulay Connor, turned to fellow lead Megan Weaver, who portrays socialite Tracy Lord, and asked if she'd like to go along. She agreed.
The pair accompanied Derek to his nearby apartment, discovering on the way that a car accident had left him physically and verbally impaired. He was learning to communicate again by attending poetry classes at the college. Moved by his story, Seitz offered to wait after rehearsal and walk Derek home every Thursday.
"I was like, 'Who is this guy?'" recalled Weaver, who said she quietly watched the conversation unfold. "You don't see that very often. You don't see men being gentlemen. Kyle didn't have to do that. He didn't have to do any of it.
"We'd walk with Derek, and Kyle would bring poetry contests that he'd looked up and give them to Derek so he could help out that way too. It showed a lot about his character. It kind of blew my mind."
That night in January 2011 marked the start of what would be a ritual for Seitz, 24, and Weaver, 32, walking around the campus and talking for hours. It also sparked a very close friendship, which transformed into a three-year romantic relationship, and, most recently, a theater-themed wedding.
Thinking back to the early days of their courtship, the newly christened Weaver-Seitz remarked that they'd be shivering outdoors and eventually end up chatting in one of their cars. Soon enough, security guards would shoo them off campus, which is what led them to a Denny's parking lot one night.
"We are kind of backwards," she said, with a chortle. "We had a lot of chemistry, which we knew, and we ended up kissing. Then I backed away from the kiss and said, 'OK, now we have to go on a date.' I said, 'I'm calling it.' He said, 'OK, what about the 15th of March?' and I said, 'OK." So we went and saw 'Wicked' at the Segerstrom Center."
They had actually shared their first kiss because the script for the romantic comedy demanded it.
"The Philadelphia Story" opened at Irvine Valley's Performing Arts Center on April 1. During its 10-day run, Connor proposed to Lord every night, but she always replied, "Thanks, but no." Meanwhile, the couple laughed to themselves behind the scenes when viewers appeared disgruntled that their characters didn't end up together.
"They kept their budding romance very quiet during the entire show out of professionalism," said Deva Gregory, who played Elizabeth Imbrie in the play. "They announced to everyone a couple weeks after that they were seeing each other and had, in fact, been seeing each other. In that sense, it came as a bit of a surprise.
"But they were always so wonderful together, courteous and loving, and had fun, so in that way, it didn't come as so much of a surprise."
Gregory, of Irvine, is now a close friend of the couple and gave a toast at their wedding. But, according to Seitz, the order was reversed there too.
"We set a wedding date even before I proposed," he quipped.
After "The Philadelphia Story" ended, Seitz and Weaver-Seitz spent the summer basking in the joy of their newfound bond, after which he left for Los Angeles to train at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Less than a year into their relationship, the two knew that they wanted to get married. The only lingering question was when.
Flipping through a calendar, they found that March 15, 2014 — by which time Seitz would have completed his course and returned to Irvine — was a Saturday. And just like that, the three-year-anniversary of their first date became their wedding date.
But when Seitz hadn't proposed by October and their ceremony was only five months away, Weaver-Seitz wasn't quite as happy. She admitted to getting upset only a few days before he popped the question.
The carefully laid-out plan began after a performance of "Fast Company" at South Coast Repertory and led the couple back to Irvine Valley College. Seitz accompanied Weaver-Seitz on a walk and dropped to one knee outside the theater where their love had blossomed. She responded by jumping around, pulling him up and even knocking the ring out of his hand.
"I always wanted to have a good story," she said. "I never wanted it to be — even though it works for lots of people — that, 'Mom, how did you meet Dad?' and I have to be like, 'Online.' I was just never that person. It's kind of surreal to have such an awesome story now. People hear about it and go, 'Aww, that's so cute.' I always wanted that but never expected to get it."
The Seitzes were wed just shy of three months ago in a vintage-style wedding in Chula Vista. They set up a projector during the reception, allowing guests to watch a DVD of their production of "The Philadelphia Story," which was followed by a screening of the original black-and-white feature film. Additionally, the ceremony featured the play's posters, programs and tickets alongside those from "Wicked" and "Fast Company," both of which also marked milestones in their lives.
The tables, where many members of the Irvine Valley College theater department were seated, were arranged as "scenes." Weaver-Seitz's wedding dress was a modern take on the gown she'd worn on stage, and Seitz wore coattails to also match the show's 1940s aesthetic.
Gregory, who described Weaver-Seitz as a "classically beautiful young woman with this gorgeous red hair" and Seitz as "a complete prankster," had this to say about the couple: "As an actor, you have to be able to empathize and see things from other points of view, and that's something they both have. Having an appreciation for the performing arts allows them to be effective with one another, communicate fluidly and see things from the other's perspective."
Weaver-Seitz, now cast alongside her husband in "Sherlock's Last Case," slated to open June 13 at the Mysterium Theater in Santa Ana, agreed. After pondering the merits of dating a fellow actor versus someone from outside the industry, she arrived at the conclusion that it's wonderful to know exactly what it takes to play a role and what the other is going through at any given time.
"In my vows, I told Kyle that I would always support him in his artistic endeavors because that was the thing that brought us together," Weaver-Seitz said. "That was the gift that God gave both of us and which he used to put us together."