Finding love in all the right places

By : 
Charlene Corson Selbee

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February, the month of love! It is that time of year when celebrations of love are exploding all around us as couples proclaim their love for each other or reminisce and celebrate years of togetherness. In honor of Valentine’s Day, it seems fitting to share the stories of three couples that met each other through their performances on stage at Spring Grove’s Ye Olde Opera House.  They also have advice for those looking for love.

Meet Rachel and David Storlie, Mark and Sarah Schroeder, and Scott and Jennifer Solberg.

Rachel and David Storlie have known each other since the “great flood” of August 2007. 

David Storlie met his future in-laws through Ye Olde Opera House. Rachel Storlie explains, “that they independently worked on Ye Olde Opera House shows in previous years, with no overlap, yet, as a result, made friends with many of the same people. It was their shared friends that brought them together. The real tie-in is their engagement story. When she moved back to the area after attending college in Minneapolis, she once again became active with Ye Olde Opera House. When paired with David and other board members for the planning of a 30th Anniversary Gala for the Opera House, the two worked closely together. The gala featured a “tour through time” of past productions, with performances by many of the original actors from each show--a musical review.  When original cast members from the 2nd annual production of “Li’l Abner” couldn’t be found, the Storlies decided to take on a duet for the gala performance. The number was “I’m Past My Prime,” an old-timey song about a young woman who feels she is too old to entice a suitor into marriage. During the performance, a dinner theater spectacular at the Spring Grove Fest Building, the duet ended with a surprise proposal while the two held their final notes. David (Marryin’ Sam) dropped to his knee and placed a ring on the finger of “Daisy Mae.” Many in the 200+ audience assumed this was a part of the act, but Rachel’s very shocked reaction signaled to their families and other cast members that this was, indeed, a true proposal! The rest is Ye Olde Opera House history.”

Mark and Sarah Schroeder’s love blossomed at the Opera House. The Schroeders met each other in the summer of 2005 during the production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” 

Schroeder explains that she was the stage manager, and her future husband, Mark Schroeder, was auditioning for a role in the play. Schroeder further explains that her husband knew David Storlie from their Luther College days and ran into him at a wedding of a mutual friend. Storlie went on to ask Schroeder if he was interested in being in a musical. Schroeder explains, “We needed many men for that show. We are usually short on men that can act, sing, and dance all at the same time.” And the rest is history.

The third couple, Scott and Jennifer Solberg will have known each other 20 years this coming July.

Jennifer Solberg shares their love story.  “During the summer of 2000, Solberg while acting in the musical “Anything Goes” while on summer break from her studies at Wartburg College.  Her future husband, Scott, was living in Decorah and serving as the president of the Ye Olde Opera House.  During the summer, he often came to check on rehearsals and work with the first time director.  That is when they first “caught each other’s eye.”  Solberg goes on to explain, “Later that summer, she was directing the children’s show, and they began dating.”  Now you can find their children acting and helping backstage for Ye Olde Opera House productions.

Why is the Ye Olde Opera House a conduit for love connections?

“The art world embraces, celebrates and exposes us for who we truly are, and capitalizes upon strengths and weaknesses discovered through that process. It is a pursuit of vulnerability and sharing and exploration that brings people together to create something meaningful for the audience. As you can imagine, working closely with somebody in that capacity opens up pathways to understanding, deep connection, and sometimes that light bulb moment when you realize you are in love!” answered Storlie.

Schroeder shared her thoughts, “When you have a common interest in anything, it is easy to get to know each other as friends. Theatre is a huge time commitment, and it can make relationships hard to maintain. When both of you are involved in theater, you are more understanding of the time involved. Even if you aren’t in the same show at the same time, you are not going to become resentful of your partner when they don’t have any time for you for a few weeks. Even if you are in the same show, you often don’t have rehearsal at the same time. We were both actors in The Music Man, and we would wave at each other as one of us left, and the others arrived at the barn. The show we are in now is one of the few shows we have done where we are on stage together most of the time.” 

“There is just something special about people who enjoy working on theater,” explains Solberg.  “We spend so much time together during a production that it doesn’t surprise me that many of us have looked around and said: “Hey, that person is pretty cool.”

With over five decades of enduring love, these three couples have some advice for those looking for a lasting relationship.

“If you feel stuck in a rut, or that you cannot find the person you want to share your life with, diving into a theatre performance tells you much more about yourself and the people around you than almost any other opportunity.”  Storlie urges “you to be unabashedly you!” and stresses, “The best we can do is be who we are and hope that somebody is excited, tantalized, and moved by that truth in a way that they can fully embrace and accept. Never compromise who you are to find acceptance from a hopeful mate.  And if you enjoy dressing up and acting on the stage--get involved with Ye Olde Opera House! You are welcome!”

Schroeder shares her opinion, “joining a group or cause that you love will help you find people who value the same things. That makes a great basis for friendships as well as romantic relationships.  Schroeder finishes by stating that “I can’t imagine that I would have found as many friends as I have without the theatre.”

“You never know where you might find them, even in a barn while singing show tunes,” smiles Solberg.

Thanks to these three amazing couples for sharing their personal stories with us. Happy Valentine’s Day!