The stars of The Nerd were about to book a venue in Philadelphia when The Milwaukee Rep called
Michael Doherty and Alex Keiper swapped out their dressing room costume stashes for an orange tie and a laser printed lace ball gown. Monday was their wedding day.
The Pennsylvania couple didn’t always plan to get married in Milwaukee. A year ago, they were just about to put a deposit down on a venue in Philly when Doherty got the call he’d been waiting for since high school. The Milwaukee Rep was bringing back The Nerd, and artistic director Mark Clemments wanted him to take the lead.
Back in high school, Doherty had set out on not only starring in The Nerd, but also directing and producing the show all at once. He bought the rights, but just a week in, the teen realized he was in over his head. He decided to can his own dream before the show had even opened.
Needless to say, the engaged couple was ecstatic for Doherty’s second chance at his “what if,” but he’d made a promise to himself and his bride to be.
“The one principle we had was, ‘Let’s not change the date of our wedding for theater. No matter what it is,’” Doherty says.
Regardless, they were looking for a way to say yes. Then, Keiper was offered a role in the production, and that’s when everything fell into place. “We were like, ‘Okay, let’s have a destination: Milwaukee wedding.”’
The choice was an easy one. Both Doherty and Keiper are frequent Milwaukee Rep actors, with credits like A Christmas Carol, Man of La Mancha, Assassins and Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash on their resumes. They love Milwaukee and were able to bring their family and coast-based friends to their Midwestern world, snow and all. The entire cast, director, assistant director and multiple stage managers even made the guest list.
“It’s emotionally warm, if not physically warm,” Keiper says.
The wedding itself was a true Milwaukee merger. The Cake Lady whipped up a lemon cake with raspberry mousse. Saz’s took care of the rest of the catering while Sound by Design kept the matinee wedding energized with their DJ duo. Keiper’s dress even came from Miss Ruby’s. Local Sarah Risley crafted custom centerpieces that doubled as favors.
“My aunt and uncle went up to Sarah after and had decided they wanted to purchase one of her larger pieces for their house so that they could commemorate the wedding. It was really beautiful,” Keiper says.
The most important support crew behind their wedding, happened to be their theater crew.
The team that typically alters costumes took on altering wedding dresses. Resident makeup lovers coached them on exactly what brushes to use. They used the theater space for their personal prep before the ceremony at Jan Serr Studio kicked off. Their wardrobe supervisor, Robert Sharon steamed dresses and suits all morning.
“He was leading me around the building in my dress because it was huge and really difficult to walk in, and he was giving advice on it all day and he gave me … tape to keep my boobs in. He was crying with me for a lot of the morning and just continually saying ‘I love you,’” Keiper says.
That love followed them throughout the day, and the couple says they’ve never felt more supported. Even the director mentioned to them he hadn’t been in a room with that much love in a long time.
The Nerd runs through December 15. Doherty plays Rick Steadman and Keiper plays Tansy McGinnis.
If You Want to See the Newlyweds in The Nerd
Michael Doherty as Rick Steadman and Alex Keiper (as Tansy McGinnis)
The Milwaukee Rep’s production of The Nerd
The show runs Nov. 12 through Dec. 15
Click here for ticket information and more details.
The Milwaukee Repertory Theater (108 East Wells Street)