Lauren and Grant Russel met at a community theater production of “High School Musical”.
“I played Sharpay and he played Zeke,” Lauren said. “We held hands on stage and the rest is history.”
The two have been together for 12 years and have been married for eight years.
The residents of Geist appear together in Irving Berlin’s “Holiday Inn” from November 19 to December 12 at the Footlite Musicals at the Hedback Theater, 1847 N. Alabama St., Indianapolis.
By the time they met, Lauren attended Lawrence North High School and Grant attended Lutheran High School.
The last time they performed together was in “Shrek the Musical” at Footlite in 2014. Lauren had a lead role while Fiona and Grant played a guard.
Grant is entering his seventh year as a firefighter for the Carmel Fire Department.
“It’s been a long time since I played,” he said. “With the schedule of the fire department, it’s very difficult to do something like this unless I’m taking vacations or switching shifts. “
Grant, 30, played Don Lockwood in “Singin ‘in the Rain” on Footlite in March 2019.
“I had to really manipulate my schedule to do it,” Grant said.
Lauren, a Lawrence city councilor, played the title role of Cinderella on Footlite in late 2019.
In recent years, the couple have been juggling shows separately to care for their three sons, Owen, 5, Landon, 4, and Henry, 8 months.
“Due to the pandemic (COVID-19), our families bonded and said they wanted to see us do something positive,” Lauren said. “Our families really encouraged us to do this.”
Lauren, 31, said the director worked with them to adapt the schedules.
“I’m going to be working on my regular schedule (through rehearsals),” Grant said. “It will only be when the show opens that I will ask for exchange dates.”
Lauren said they value the community of Footlite folks.
“It’s a great group of people and professional directors,” Lauren said. “There are a lot of opportunities to show ourselves off. They do a lot of really great shows that we believe in. Grant grew up dancing and he did it a lot longer than I did. He has been playing since the age of 5. He learned to tap dance and traveled in tap dance. I started doing theater in high school.
The musical is based on the 1942 film “Holiday Inn”, which features “White Christmas”, among the Berlin songs. Grant plays the role of Ted Hanover, who was played by Fred Astaire in the film.
“Holiday Inn” is not played as often as other holiday movies.
“This is one of the reasons I wanted to do it,” Grant said.
Lauren plays Linda Mason, who was Jim Hardy’s love interest, played by Bing Crosby in the film.
“Grant and I do a lot of ballroom dancing and it’s a lot of fun,” Lauren said. “We enjoyed so much reconnecting this way. I’ve never tapped with him, so I have a lot of catching up to do. He’s really good. There are a number in the show where he taps with fireworks so a firefighter taps with fireworks.
Grant said rehearsals have become almost like a date night.
“It’s hard to find the time to get away with his wife and share time with the boys (with) my schedule,” Grant said.
Grant said he and “Holiday Inn” choreographer Linda Rees learned to tap dance from the same instructor. Rees is the owner and artistic director of Dance Magic in Noblesville.
To learn more, visit footlite.org.