Celebrating love on the Great White Way

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

If you’re going to do a show about “Love on Broadway,” what better way to approach it than corral performers who found love and continue to experience love on Broadway.

To that end, on May 19, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will present an evening of Broadway love songs performed by three married couples who have performed on Broadway.

“The whole show is love songs,” said Sal Viviano (“The Full Monty”) who is performing with his wife, Liz Larsen (“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”).

However, one of the songs, Sal said, is more about the competitive side of love. He and Liz will perform “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better),” from “Annie, Get Your Gun.” “It’s a standard husband wife discussion throughout life,” Sal quipped.

In a phone interview, Liz and Sal spoke about what it’s like to be married to a fellow performer.

One of the advantages of having a spouse who is a performer is, said Liz, “We both understand we made this choice of choosing art over money.”

If you were married to someone in the corporate world they might question taking a performing gig in another city for a cut in pay as Liz will do when she arrives at the Goodspeed Opera House in Chester, Conn. this summer to perform in “Sweeney Todd.” She will be taking a break from “Beautiful,” a musical she has performed in for the past four years.

Sal said he understands Liz’s need to take a break from “Beautiful” so she can “revive her spirit” and reinvigorate her chops as a performer.

The choices being made by Liz and Sal this summer is one of the biggest disadvantages of being two artists in love. “We never ever know if we can pay the rent,” said Liz.

Thanks to her role in “Beautiful,” said Liz, “this is the first time in 20 years we have had a consistent paycheck.” But, she said, that could change. Each year, she said, you ask yourself, “Will it be scary or okay?”

Another hurdle to overcome arrives when a couple has children, she said.

Once there were children, it was hard for the couple to work the typical Broadway schedule of eight shows a week.

“Eight shows a week, you miss a lot like parties and games for the kids,” said Liz.

As the kids got older, Sal said he didn’t want to miss on opportunity, such as coaching their sports teams. So, while Liz stayed on the stage after the kids were born, Sal started singing with symphonies in order to achieve some flexibility.

“I was doing something but not as much— so I could be home more and be a dad,” said Sal.

Even now, there is a balancing act for Sal and Liz. The day after they perform with the Hartford Symphony, their oldest son is graduating from Hartt School of Music in Hartford. And when their young son graduates high school, Sal will be in Austin, Texas where he will be performing. He will miss the graduation ceremony—where his son will be singing—but he will make it back in time for the party and celebration after.

Liz has to take a night off from “Beautiful” in order to attend. And that means giving an understudy enough time to prepare.

One issue does not come into play for Liz and Sal as a couple of performers. Ego.

There is no competition between the two.

“Once we made the commitment, and we had the kids, his success is my success,” said Liz.

“You identify with the other’s success,” said Sal.

In addition to “Anything you Can Do,” Sal and Liz will be performing, “When I Fall In Love,” “Night and Day, “Send in the Clowns,” and “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera.” They also will be joined on stage by the two other couples on the bill Donald E. Webber Jr. (“Hamilton) and Rebecca Covington Webber (“Beautiful”) and Stephen Trafton (“Les Miserables”) and Juliette Trafton (“The Fantasticks”).

‘There’s a lot of really great music,” said Sal.

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s HSO Pops! Series presents “Love on Broadway” on Saturday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mortensen Hall, The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford.

Tickets to this concert begin at $25. Student tickets are $10 with a valid ID.

To purchase tickets or for more information, please call (860) 987-5900 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.

Sal Viviano

Liz Larsen