By the time Lindsay Mendez walked down the aisle in Kansas City this past May, her husband, jazz musician Philip Wakefield, had already seen her in her white A-line gown—so had many Roundabout subscribers. It was the same dress she had a worn a year earlier in the Off-Broadway world premiere of Joshua Harmon’s new play Significant Other at the Laura Pels Theatre. The play, which will transfer to Broadway in early 2017, is about a gay man who watches his best girlfriends get married as he tries to find a love of his own. Wakefield proposed back in his hometown of Kansas City soon after the production ended.
As one of the top jazz drummers in Kansas City, it wasn’t until this spring that Wakefield was able to make the big move to New York, where he was welcomed by Mendez’s large Broadway squad, including Katie Rose Clarke, Derek Klena, Ryan Scott Oliver and Matthew Murphy. This fall the newlyweds will explore the Italian Riviera on their honeymoon, aboard the Playbill cruise, Broadway on the High Seas 7. As far as the New York theatre world goes, this KC jazz musician has been thrown into the deep end—but he never wants to get out.
Lindsay, you lived in New York and Philip was in Kansas City. How did you cross paths?
Lindsay Mendez: After [playing Elphaba in] Wicked [on Broadway] I went out to Kansas City for the world premiere of this new musical by Nick Blaemire called A Little More Alive at Kansas City Rep. On my last week there I really wanted to go see jazz music, so I found this jazz club called The Green Lady online, and since I had just played the green lady [in Wicked] it felt like the right place to go. Philip was playing the drums there.
Philip Wakefield: It was a really dead night, and then there was this one table of really appreciative, into-it people.
LM: There were six of us. It was me, Danny Jenkins, our stage manager Emily Hayes, Kayla Foster, our guitarist Jesse Weiner and Van Hughes.
PW: I wanted to make a point to go over and talk to them because they were into what we were doing. Even though it was a dead night they were making up for it, so I went over and started introducing myself. We found out that they were from New York and that they were actors. After that initial meet and greet, her friends said, “Go talk to the drummer. They drummer is cute.” I had some wing men at the table.
LM: It was our last week in Kansas City, and I was like, “I’m not going to go talk to this guy,” and they said, “Come on, Mendez. YOLO!” [YOLO] was our hashtag during that show, so I YOLO’d it and went up and talked to him. I was so uncool. I was like, “I’m a jazz musician, too, and I have a band. Sometimes I need drummers,” and I gave him my card.
PW: What she’s taking out of that factor is how gorgeous she was and how very single and 30 we both were. Then I made the move because the joint we were playing at didn’t serve food. Her friends were hungry, and they were all there in one car, so she had to leave a little early, before we really had the chance to talk. She was walking out and was trying to tell me why, but I was in the middle of playing, and so I [gestured] to text me. At the end of the set I walked out and she had already texted me.
LM: I definitely was not cool.
PW: All the typical conventions were out the window. She came back and met me for a drink.
LM: And we’ve been together ever since.
And this past May you were married!
PW: We had a two-phase wedding. We had a New York wedding, and then we had a Kansas City wedding.
PW: Yes, because her family is from L.A., and my family is in Kansas City, so Kansas City made sense for the family ceremony. Then we had New York people.
LM: Also Philip’s dad is a pastor and really wanted to give us a ceremony at his church [in Kansas City]. Another reason we had two weddings is because when we were first planning, we were working around jobs [like the Broadway production of Nerds]. Then it ended up that none of those jobs happened. We were like, “Well, we already planned these two weddings, so we’ll just do that.” Our anniversary is May 6. We really wanted to get married on that date, but May 6 was a Friday, so we just went to the courthouse that day, and [originally] I was going to [perform in Nerds] that night. We loved going to the courthouse. It’s so magical down there.
PW: Right and not to get too far into it, but I believe in separation of church and Phil.
Church and Phil! I love that.
PW: My wife is rolling her eyes.
LM: I let you go ahead and say it.
PW: We’re like an old married couple already, so we did the courthouse and then that night [since Lindsay no longer had to perform in Nerds], Trip Cullman, a director that Lindsay works with quite a bit, hosted an after party.
LM: He and Sas Goldberg, who was in Significant Other with me, threw us a little party. It was great.
PW: Then Kansas City was at the end of the month. We did a barbecue dinner and our families got to meet, which was really cool.
LM: And fun fact: I wore my wedding dress from Significant Other for my Kansas City wedding. They let me borrow it.
Are you serious? That’s so cool!
LM: I loved it so much. I knew that Jeffrey Richards had all of our costumes, so I wrote him and said, “I know this is a long shot, but I’m getting married, and I would love to wear my dress.” He shipped it to me and let me wear it.
It’s a very rare thing to get to wear your wedding dress again and again and again…
LM: That’s why I thought it would be really special, and that show was a really special time for me, and for us, too. It was about weddings, and we really fell in love with that cast. We got engaged right after it.
PW: [Wearing that dress] was actually my request. I don’t think you could have found a better wedding dress at the time. It fit you perfectly, and it was gorgeous.
Lindsay one thing that really stands out about you is how many close friends you seem to have in the Broadway community. Philip, do you feel like she’s brought you into that? Was it overwhelming?
PW: Lindsay surrounds herself with some of the best people I’ve ever met. We’re talking about real quality human beings, and I think that’s a testament to her character. I feel blessed to have such quality people in my life, so it’s been great. When you up and move to a new town you don’t always get something like that, so I’m really fortunate that we have the people in our lives that we do.
LM: One of the millions of great things about Philip is that he really lets me and my friends be us. I don’t feel like I have to behave any differently with my friends. He just comes right along and picks up our weirdness and our inside jokes. It’s great, because I’ve had so many of these friends for such a long time—I’ve had a lot longer history with them then I’ve had with Philip—but they’ve been so welcoming to him, and I’m grateful for that.