Same-Sex Couples Marry Onstage at Hair
This week, theater usher Jared Pike will work at the production of Hair, which is playing on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on 44th Street. Monday night, however, he kissed his husband, John Raymond Barker, on that stage, surrounded by the show's fringe-clad tribe, as a packed house watched and applauded.
Pike and Barker were pronounced married, along with two other couples, by actor Colman Domingo in a brief ceremony in between the play's curtain call and the dance party with the audience that occurs onstage after every performance.
Terri White, an actress who will appear in the upcoming revival of Follies, and jewelry designer Donna Barnett, plus actor Ryan Dietz and playwright Joshua Levine, were the other couples wed by Domingo, who told the audience the first thing he did after hearing that the Marriage Equality Act had been passed was become ordained.
"You may now kiss your spouse," Domingo proclaimed at the end of his short ceremony as the couples, who formed a semi-circle around him, embraced.
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The band began playing the show's opening song, "Aquarius," which features lyrics speaking to "harmony and understanding." This revival of the 1967 musical reopened on Broadway this summer after closing last year, and it has a history of activity with regard to gay rights: In 2009 producers canceled a performance so the cast could attend the National Equality March in Washington D.C.
"I saw Hair for the first time when I was 19," Barnett said to a group of reporters outside the theater. "As Terri said, it's peace and love and, you know, we lived through the Vietnam war, we burned our bras, we marched for women's equality, we marched against the war, we marched for gay rights. We've done it all, so we're just thrilled and excited."
After the vows, Barker initiated a trend by throwing his bouquet into the audience, and then Barnett threw hers.
The music grew louder and eventually transitioned into "Let the Sun Shine In." Audience members (and reporters who had been crouched in the front row) flooded the stage and talked to the couples, who danced and posed for pictures. Cast members wiped away tears. We caught Pike and Barker on the carpeted floor just as they were being handed a large, gold shopping bag with gifts from Domingo and his wedding planning company. In it, we found out later, were two stuffed teddy bears each dressed as a groom.
Shortly after, one person handed Pike and Barker, who has also worked as a doorman and usher on Broadway, a Playbill to sign: "Oh God, really? Oh my God. Wow," Barker said, taking the pen.
Working at the Jujamcyn Theaters, one of which is the St. James, has been Pike and Barker's "main survival job," Barker said. Pike is studying for his master's degree in theater history and criticism at Brooklyn College and Barker is an actor, singer, and writer. Monday, though, was not their first wedding. The two were legally married in Connecticut a year ago.
That was not the case for the other two couples, both of whom went to Manhattan Borough Hall Sunday to get their licenses. Newlyweds Mike Thomas-Faria, 55, and Randy Faria, 61, were walking to the subway from another show when they remembered that the wedding were happening Monday at Hair. As they stopped to congratulate the couples, they realized they had been in line with White and Barnett Sunday.
White and Barnett have been on the St. James stage before, though. Two years ago, when White was performing in Finian's Rainbow at that theater, the two had a commitment ceremony.
We asked Barnett's son, Brett Berk, the author of The Gay Uncle's Guide to Parenting, how he felt about his mother getting married.
"For the third time? Redundant? No, it's wonderful," he said laughing.
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