Eventually Elliott Kashner had to take matters into his own hands.
It was December 2009, and for the first time the cast of Keegan Theater’s production of “Rent” was rehearsing with a live band. Elliott, an actor who was playing keyboard for the show, saw the pretty redhead from across the room and, without thinking, began walking toward her.
Carolyn Myers, the ensemble understudy, was happily chatting with a fellow actor Elliott knew from previous shows. As the three of them talked, Elliott waited for an introduction that never came. Finally, he pushed their mutual friend out of the way and extended his hand.
“I wasn’t going to wait any longer,” he remembers.
Carolyn had already noted that Elliott was her ideal physical type — tall and handsome — but she assumed he was too good-looking to be nice. Then he smiled. “And I was like, ‘Well, that’s the man I’m going to marry.’ ”
When the actors were called back to their places, she walked away unnerved. “What a weird feeling — it really like, struck me. I was like ‘Shake it off, Myers.’ ”
To Elliott, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world — as if they’d known each other for years. “A lot of times when you meet someone for the first time, you’re second-guessing yourself,” he says. “But it was just like, ‘That went exactly how it should’ve gone.’ ”
Soon they were hanging out during rehearsal breaks, texting during performances (if Carolyn wasn’t onstage) and chatting online during the day. Although it was clear to everyone how much they liked each other, Carolyn wasn’t sure what would happen when the show closed in February. But when Elliott found out Carolyn hadn’t seen the movie “Avatar,” he insisted they go.
When they parted after the movie and drinks, she expected a kiss that never came. “Why didn’t you kiss me?” Carolyn asked over instant messenger.
Elliott didn’t have a good answer and was ready to rectify the situation. As the season’s third big blizzard was set to bear down on the Washington area, he stocked his house with food and invited Carolyn over. For two straight days they watched movies, drank beer, played board games and, finally, kissed.
It became clear that they had similar philosophies on acting and shared an almost identical sense of humor. Carolyn vividly remembers the first time Elliott quoted “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” one of her favorite shows. “It was like angels from heaven came down,” she says.
“It’s that moment when you realize that a person you’ve just met already knows all your inside jokes,” Elliott agrees.
In March, they agreed to be exclusive and were soon spending much of their free time together. As working actors, that wasn’t always easy — often one would be rehearsing while the other was performing, and they’d see each other only in passing. But sharing the profession made it easier for them to relate to each other’s challenges and frustrations.
Throughout 2010, Carolyn was awed that her overwhelming first impression of Elliott only grew.
“He was very funny, very selfless, very attentive — in a way that made me feel very special,” she says. “For the first time in a very long time, I felt like a high-schooler again. I had such a huge crush on him.”
And just by spending time with her, Elliott, now 27, found himself seeing the world with new eyes. “She had this kind of emotional depth and understanding — to be that close and intimate with a person who has that understanding of themselves makes you want to understand yourself better,” he says. “I felt like a deeper, more empathetic person.”
Although they never said it out loud, both felt certain the relationship was headed toward marriage. When Carolyn, who now also works at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, had back surgery in 2011, Elliott was her nurse and constant companion, shuttling her to each appointment. By the end of that year they decided to move in to together, and Elliott told her he was ready for the next step. “It was basically like, ‘I can’t afford a ring yet, but if I could afford a ring it would be that conversation.’ ”
In March 2012, they went to a Sunday matinee at the Keegan Theatre to celebrate their second anniversary. After the show, they sat in the theater talking. Eventually Carolyn noticed that everyone else had filed out. She shrieked when Elliott got down on one knee and proposed in the place where they first met. Outside in the lobby, many of their friends were waiting to toast the couple with champagne.
Once they left, Carolyn, now 29, had to sit down outside to catch her breath. “How much he’s done for me is just staggering,” she says. “I felt like, ‘Okay, I’ll marry you, but I owe you more than that.’ ”
On April 20, the two exchanged vows on a dock stretching out into an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay at the Oaks Waterfront Inn in Easton, Md. Their 160 guests cheered as they bounced back down the aisle as husband and wife.
“I feel like all the things that I would consider myself weak at are things that not only is she good at, but she’s able to articulate in a way that it does help me,” Elliott said before the wedding. “It’s kind of like Captain America with our powers combined. I feel like together we’ve got everything we need.”