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Megan Carver and Ben Farmer, who got married Sept. 20, also got engaged on the stage



Photo Credit: PAUL RICH FOR THE BROADWAY ROSE THEATRE COMPANY - Newlyweds Megan Carver (left) and Ben Farmer (far right) pose with castmates Craig Allen and Any Jo Halliday, who all star in the Broadway Rose Theatre Company's production of 'A Christmas Survival Guide.'Megan Carver and Ben Farmer, who just got married Sept. 20, met on the stage and got engaged on the stage, so it’s no surprise to find them performing together for the seventh time in the upcoming Broadway Rose production of “A Christmas Survival Guide.”

Despite diverse theatrical backgrounds, they have managed to be cast in a variety of shows together, which means they can spend more time together considering they both have day jobs.

They were both born in Salem, and Carver, who as a child played at a playground close to Farmer’s dad’s fire station where he was a firefighter, likes to think that their paths must have crossed at one of Salem’s parks.

Carver’s family moved to Portland when she was 6 years old, and even at a young age, she showed a theatrical bent, according to her mom.

“I started taking ballet when I was young, and at my first recital, my mom said I smiled and waved to the audience as soon as I saw them,” Carver said. “I went to Northwest Children’s Theatre’s theater camp. At first, acting and singing were a hobby, and then it became a major thing in my life. I went to Jesuit High School, which had a great theater program, and then got a bachelor of arts in theater at Portland State University.

“After college, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, so I stayed here and built up my resumé, but then I planned on moving to Chicago, because I have lots of family there, and I thought there would be more theater opportunities.”

Carver decided to audition for the Lakewood Theatre Company’s production of “The Producers,” and if she was cast, she planned to move to Chicago after the show ended in May 2009.

Meanwhile, Farmer attended a K-12 private, Christian school where there were only five students in his graduation class. “There was a limited theater program, and we could only do Christian plays, but they had a really good choir program,” he said.

After high school, Farmer attended Chemeketa Community College for 1 ½ years, where he got into theater and realized what he had been missing.

“I did my first musical, ‘Hello Dolly,’ even though I had no formal musical training,” Farmer said. “While I was attending Chemeketa Community College, I also was doing multiple shows – both musical and classical – with Pentacle Theatre in Salem as well… I learned a lot from them as an actor in my late teens.”

With 1 ½ years of acting under his belt, Farmer auditioned for the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, where he was accepted; he moved to new York for two years, living in “housing on the upper west side that was a renovated insane asylum.”

At the academy, students had to choose to major in musical or classical theater, and Farmer chose the classical route, earning a two-year certificate, but he also was able to take extracurricular classes in dancing and other subjects.

When Farmer left New York in 2006, he moved to Portland and got his first job in film and then was cast in the ensemble in the Broadway Rose production of “Les Miserables.” Later, he appeared in the second season of the TV series, “Leverage,” and in another touch of irony, Carver appeared in the fourth season of the TV show.

Like Carver, Farmer auditioned for Lakewood’s “The Producers,” and they both were cast in the ensemble, but he had his moment in the spotlight: “You know the song, ‘Springtime for Hitler’?” Farmer said. “I was that guy.”

While Carver and Farmer met during the show, she had just gotten out of a relationship and was set on staying single for a while. When Farmer asked her to go to the Drammy Awards, she didn’t realize he considered it a date.

“I thought we were just going as friends and asked for a rain check,” she said. “Later I noticed he was really bummed, and I realized he had asked me for a date. So at rehearsal in the middle of staging a number, I said to him, ‘You can ask me out again,’ and he said, ‘What?’ and I repeated myself.”

Farmer picked up the story, remembering that he asked, “Do you want to go out Saturday?” and added, “I was excited. I had been single for a year and a half.”

The couple had dated for 4 ½ years when Farmer came up with a unique proposal that involved everyone in the cast of the Bag & Baggage Production of “It’s a Somewhat Wonderful Life” at the Venetian Theater & Bistro in Hillsboro, where Carver was in the show.

On Dec. 23, 2012, which was the last night of the show, the cast pushed her up to the front during the final curtain call, and from the back of the theater, she heard Farmer singing Billy Joel’s “You’re My Home.”

As the whole audience stayed and watched, Farmer stepped forward and proposed.

“We met on the stage and did shows together, and our relationship just blossomed,” Carver said. “It’s an interesting dynamic, with both of us being actors. And the nice thing is we understand what the other one is going through, including post-show depression.”

In addition to the couple’s many theatrical appearances over the years, both work at day jobs: Carver is a customer experience representative for Airbnb, and Farmer is head of security for Fiserv, a bank technology company, and both are grateful that they have flexible jobs where they can get away when they necessary for acting jobs.

“We really, really lucked out,” Farmer said, and Carver added, “We both have had jobs that were not flexible.”

The number of acting jobs they do varies from year to year, and Carver said, “I can potentially do two to three shows a year, but you have to step away from that to be available for film, and sometimes nothing comes up.”

Farmer explained, “You almost have to choose between film and plays, because if you’re in a play, you might not be able to do a film, especially if they need you at night. You really have to want to do theater jobs, but if you go too long between shows, you get starved to do theater.

“They are two totally different worlds, and they both have their advantages.”

Carver, who like Farmer previously worked for Broadway Rose (in “Hairspray”), said it is like coming home to be back at the Tigard theater company, and they appreciate co-founders Sharon Maroney, who is the producing artistic director, and Dan Murphy, who is the general manager.

“What I really, truly appreciate is what Dan and Sharon do,” Farmer said. “They teach an incredible work ethic. I think one of the many great things they do is that they give actors opportunities to expand their skillset, almost apprenticing them to become better at what they love.”

And Carver, who has nervously stepped outside musical theater to do some classical plays, including Shakespeare, added, “You may not see something in yourself, but they see it in you.”

However, the good times in Portland may be coming to an end: Despite their love for local theater and their families living nearby, Carver and Farmer are thinking seriously about moving to New York at the end of next year.

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