Gary Mauer swears that he remembers exactly what Elizabeth Southard was wearing when they met.
“I can see her right now. She was stunning,” said Mauer, who will appear with Southard on Saturday at Garner Performing Arts Center as part of the Broadway Voices concert series.
Southard says her husband remembers something that didn’t happen.
“No way I was wearing a little red dress on an hour-and-a-half commute from Connecticut in the rain and then on the subways and headed for a rehearsal. But I let Gary remember what he thinks he remembers,” Southard says. “It was a dance suit.”
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Mauer was smitten with Southard at the rehearsal of a cruise ship program that included a stage wedding followed by a concert romp through the theater district of New York.
The script called for songs from many of the top Broadway shows of the time. Their falling in love was strictly improvised.
Theirs has been a genuine Broadway romance.
“It was an amazing time and it has only gotten better,” Mauer said.
Mauer and Southard are best known for their runs in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.” He began his run in Phantom as a swing, reporting each night prepared to perform any of about a dozen roles.
Eventually he took the role of Raoul, the young love interest of the stunningly beautiful Christine, in this case sometimes Southard. Later, he took the lead Phantom role and could woo his wife on stage.
“There is something about playing opposite your husband,” Southard said. “There is so much trust. The feelings are real. I think that jumps across to the audience.”
The critics were impressed.
“Sir Webber’s lush, Puccini-inspired score is lyrically evergreen in this hearing, thanks to Gary Mauer’s dangerous, sexy Phantom and Elizabeth Southard’s inquisitive, not-too-innocent Christine,” wrote D.L. Groover of the Houston Press.
They and their two children traveled the country for 2 1/2 years after joining “Phantom’s” national tour. They would stop for weeks at a time in places such as Chicago, Dallas, Baltimore and Salt Lake City.
“I know children’s museums all over the country,” Southard said.
Their spin as Gaylord Ravenal and Magnolia Hanks in “Showboat” was much shorter, but Mauer remembers it fondly.
Mauer also spent time in “Les Miserables” as the student leader Enrojlas, and for a brief time was simultaneously in “Phantom.” A few days he sang “All I Ask of You” as Viscount Raoul de Chagny in the matinee and “Red and Black” as Enjolras Grantaire of the rebellion that night.
Their concert, “Broadway Bliss,” will touch on their many theatrical stops.
Mauer knows he and Southard have been very lucky to so often be cast in shows together.
“We just had our 20th anniversary, and despite working in productions all over the world, we’ve managed to be together most of the time,” he said.