Tidewater Stage’s Production of I Do! I Do! Opens in Studio Theatre

Nestled in the back corner of Regent University’s Communication & the Arts building is a pocket of hoop skirts and abandoned oven props. This is where Tidewater Stage’s production of I Do! I Do! comes to life.

The fun-loving and, at times, hard-hitting two-person musical spans 50 years of marriage, from the eve of the young couple’s wedding to the day they become empty nesters. I Do I Do! opens on Regent’s Studio Theatre stage Friday, June 19-21 and continues the following weekend, June 26-28. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with Saturday-Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

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Stephen Van Dorn and Gina D’Acciaro, the show’s sole performers, sit together on the production’s set-in-progress: A bedroom where the lives of the newly-wedded “Michael” and “Agnes” unfold. Several props lay askew among the rehearsal space – a pair of yellow infant booties, a chaise, and a throw pillow vital to the production.

“It says ‘God is love.’ It’s used for comfort. It’s used when we’re fighting. It’s everything. My mother puts it on our bed on our wedding night,” said D’Acciaro, already assuming the role of her character. “It’s there to remind us that God is there, in our bedroom.”

“She loves it. But, it’s a total buzz-kill for my character,” said Van Dorn. “At the end of the show we leave a bottle of champagne on his side and the pillow on hers. Though, who’s to say that they’re not going to choose opposite sides?”

That’s what you feel when you watch Van Dorn and D’Acciaro step and touch into their roles as a married couple. They speculate about the future of their home, not as actors playing characters, but as the characters themselves.

“I have to tell the director to check me that I sound like I’m 19-years-old at the start of the show,” explained D’Acciaro. “We have to make sure that every time we start a scene we know what year it is and what our age is so we can go, ‘Okay, I’m 39 here, okay, now I’m 55.”

But for Van Dorn and D’Acciaro, this is more than method acting. It’s a testament to the longstanding performance history they share. They met during a show in 2007 and have played well together ever since. Van Dorn even created a duo of songs for a show for the two to perform together called, Gina and Stephen Together Again for the First Time.

“It’s interesting we’ve been friends for a long time. We thought we spent a lot of time together before. But now we’re together 24-7, minus the sleeping,” said D’Acciaro. “And we’ve discovered some things about each other, too.”

And so, life imitates art as the duo spend hours in music and dance rehearsals every day preparing for the show’s opening night and training themselves to have the stamina it takes to keep a two-person show full of energy and bright humor, almost in a performance covenant of their own.

“It’s exhausting, we’re running all over the place,” said Van Dorn.

“There’s no break – there’s no chance for us to even get a sip of water, barely. But you also feel a huge responsibility to each other,” said D’Acciaro, turning to Van Dorn. “It’s just you and me, kid. And we better be super entertaining.”

Learn more about Regent’s Tidewater Stage season. Follow D’Acciaro and Van Dorn’s journey on Instagram and Twitter using the #TidewaterStage15 hashtag. Post a photo with #WeDoToo for a chance to win tickets to the production’s opening weekend.