Brad Davidson and his longtime girlfriend McKenzie Morehead are no strangers to the stage, but in this past weekend’s production of The Little Mermaid, put on by Saint Joseph’s Robidoux Resident Theatre, they both dove into new territory as a couple. Both were given the lead roles in the production, Brad as Eric and McKenzie as Ariel. They were shocked to get to play opposite each other, and even though the workload was intense, they used the opportunity to spend more time together, even if they were doing it in front of the crowd each night at the Missouri Theater.
“During the first month of rehearsals, we were able to spend a lot more time than usual together to rehearse scenes and work on dance routines, but the second month was different than that. We both had little time to dedicate to practicing outside of rehearsals and our jobs, so the only times that we saw each other were during our scenes together on stage,” junior Davidson said. “Any quality time together that we might have been yearning for would just have to be shared with everyone else in the audience as well.”
For McKenzie, who was cast as Ariel, getting to portray one of her favorite Disney princesses was exhilarating. It was Ariel’s spunk and sense of adventure that she was drawn to, so she jumped at the opportunity to bring her to life on stage. The only Broadway role McKenzie has ever truly desired is the very role she was given in this show. She decided to audition before her boyfriend did, and all it took for him to change his mind was one simple text.
“I texted Brad with, ‘Would you be okay with me kissing another man in nothing but seashells onstage?’ Needless to say, he showed up to auditions,” Morehead said.
Davidson, with a little boost from his girlfriend’s text, auditioned for the role of Eric. He said that he was raised on classics like “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin.” He even recalls breaking his family’s VCR, as he would rewind the VHS tapes so much to re-sing through a song. He liked the character depth that the stage version of “The Little Mermaid” had added to the role of Prince Eric, so he auditioned for the role. Getting cast opposite McKenzie was an added bonus, one that he was very grateful for.
“Acting with McKenzie takes out all of the awkwardness that comes with working alongside a fellow actor or actress on stage,” Davidson said. “Instead of being afraid to mess up, I can breath a sigh of relief because I know that McKenzie will laugh at my mistakes right along with me.”
After the curtain call in the final showing of the production on Sunday afternoon, Brad announced to the crowd that he had to make an announcement and asked everyone to stay. At this point, he walked over to McKenzie, who ironically, was wearing a wedding dress, as her character had just married Prince Eric to conclude the show. He then proceeded to tell her how special she was and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, and on bended knee, he proposed, in front of the entire audience. She said yes and the crowd cheered them on. McKenzie was speechless.
“I did not see that coming! I was shocked. I thought it was kind of weird for him to be making an announcement to a couple in the audience, but ‘the director said to’, so I went with it. Little did I know he was going to pop the question on me,” she said.
Thanks to this show, these two are becoming part of each other’s worlds. The Little Mermaid will always be a special production to them, the one that allowed them to perform alongside each other, to personally grow as actors and vocalists, and to take the first step into their future together.
“The memories that McKenzie and I have made thus far with this show will last for the rest of our lives,” Davidson said.