Broadway musicians rarely have the opportunity to chat up Broadway stars.
“There’s a reason they call it the pit,” Adam Krauthamer said. He was jokingly referring to the lower level of the theater where the orchestra is sequestered. Mr. Krauthamer, a French horn player, has played for stage shows for over a decade.
There’s an exception to this segregation: At the first run-through (an event called the sitzprobe), the orchestra and the actors unite in a rehearsal room.
In 2014 at the sitzprobe for “Bullets Over Broadway,” Mr. Krauthamer was taken aback by one of the female leads, an expressive and funny blonde.
“I could feel her personality in her voice, it was so clear and beautiful,” said Mr. Krauthamer, 36, a veteran of such shows as “Cinderella,” “Shrek the Musical” and “The King and I.” In February, he will be in the pit at the St. James Theater for the Broadway musical “Frozen.”
The lead who had Mr. Krauthamer’s attention was Betsy Wolfe, who is currently starring in “Waitress” at the Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York. At the time, she was cast as an ingénue in Woody Allen’s stage adaptation of “Bullets Over Broadway” and at the sitzprobe she was so deep into her work that she had scarcely noticed the musicians. During a break, a cast mate alerted her to a handsome guy in the brass section.
“French horn, salmon shirt, no wedding ring,” the friend whispered in her ear. “That’s who you should be with.”
Ms. Wolfe laughed off her pal’s suggestion because she was in a relationship, albeit a rocky one, and not long out of a long marriage to her high school sweetheart, which had ended in 2012.
After the rehearsal, with the infamously sluggish (and small) elevator at Carroll Studios moving even slower than usual, Ms. Wolfe took to the stairwell, when she heard a voice behind her.
“Even Broadway stars take the stairs?”
Turning, she saw the salmon shirt guy. Ms. Wolfe chuckled and flashed a smile before continuing her descent.
“It was a gutsy move, and I like being made fun of,” said Ms. Wolfe, 35. “Plus I really didn’t think of myself as a Broadway star.”
Yet she had been charging Broadway since her childhood in Visalia, Calif., an inland agriculture town known for its citrus, olives and cotton. From an early age, she sought the spotlight. For a preschool concert, she was relegated to the back row but parted the children à la Moses to take center stage when the singing started.
Around the house she mounted musicals starring the family cats and broke into song willy-nilly with her hairbrush microphone. While still in grade school, she arrived at the first rehearsal of a junior college production to star in “Annie” having already memorized her lines. And before the ripe age of 17 she had played the lead in “Hello, Dolly” not once but twice.
She was 15 and in New York City for the first time when she discovered a truth about her dream job. “I had no idea that Broadway was the name of a street,” she said. “Starring ‘on Broadway’ certainly made more sense once I saw that!”
After graduating in 2004 from the University of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music with a B.F.A. in musical theater, Ms. Wolfe made her Broadway debut three years later in the revival of “110 in the Shade” and has worked in shows such as “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “The Last Five Years” and “Falsettos” ever since. She took the lead in “Waitress” last June.
“Don’t tell Betsy she can’t do something because she’ll prove you wrong,” said her mother, Bonnie Wolfe, an artist and speech pathologist. Scott Wolfe, a history teacher, athletic coach and former professional baseball player, wholeheartedly agreed about his daughter.
Months after the opening of “Bullets,” Ms. Wolfe and Mr. Krauthamer met again face to face at an after-show get-together. (Both credit Zach Braff, then a stage neophyte, for inviting musicians to a traditionally actors-only social event. “He didn’t realize musicians weren’t usually invited to cast gatherings,” Mr. Krauthamer said.)
Mr. Krauthamer maneuvered to start a conversation and was relieved when Ms. Wolfe “didn’t run away from a musician,” he said. In an easy exchange, the two soon unearthed similarities under their more obvious differences.
Ms. Wolfe was raised in a West Coast conservative Christian home; Mr. Krauthamer grew up on Long Island, in Baldwin, N.Y., in a liberal Jewish family, the son of Marshall Krauthamer, a special-education teacher and guidance counselor, and Susan Krauthamer, a nurse practitioner.
Both sets of parents shared similar values including service to their communities, the necessity of hard work, and a commitment to their children’s ambitions that stopped well short of being pushy.
Like Ms. Wolfe, Mr. Krauthamer’s path to performing started early. He picked up the French horn in grade school after discovering the drums and trumpets had been claimed. A high school music camp cemented his zeal, after which he tracked down and phoned, without his parents’ help, Jerome Ashby, a much-loved horn player then with the New York Philharmonic and also teaching at Juilliard.
After a tough lesson in 1996, Mr. Krauthamer, despite still being in high school, was determined that Mr. Ashby accept him as a continuing student. Eventually, Mr. Ashby (who died in 2007) became his teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music. Mr. Krauthamer graduated in 2004 and received a master’s degree in Music from Yale in 2006.
After college, Mr. Krauthamer worked in restaurants: dishwashing, cooking and bartending while supporting his career. Ms. Wolfe sold household items and furniture on Craigslist, stuff she mostly picked up for free. (She still has this urge when she spies good castoffs on the curb.)
In that first conversation, the parallels in their temperaments also became evident: Both are known for their honesty and authenticity. “Long before I knew I loved Adam, I loved how we talked to each other,” Ms. Wolfe said. “Not for a second were either of us anyone other than who we are.”
That night Mr. Krauthamer asked for a date, but Ms. Wolfe demurred. Despite their fun and flirty repartee, she wondered if Mr. Krauthamer’s smooth moves might not be exclusive to her. Also, because of her previous relationships, she had little dating experience.
Indeed, Mr. Krauthamer had dated plenty and had had his share of relationships, but none had jelled. He had recently shifted to thinking he might remain single, but after connecting with Ms. Wolfe that notion seemed ridiculous.
At subsequent gatherings, the two easily picked up where they’d left off, but it took months, a lot of back-and-forth texting, and persistence from Mr. Krauthamer to persuade Ms. Wolfe. “I was willing to wait,” he said.
In June 2014 his perseverance delivered. “Broadway stars have to eat sometime?” was the line that pushed Ms. Wolfe to agree to dinner; afterward they shared a kiss in Riverside Park.
In both their professions, timing is paramount. But here it was everything. “I’d been savoring the newness of what I knew was going to be a great relationship, and that kiss was everything I thought it was going to be,” Ms. Wolfe said.
Mr. Krauthamer found Ms. Wolfe unusually attentive, especially for someone so busy. Besides his own music career, Mr. Krauthamer founded the Jerome Ashby Scholarship at the Juilliard School. He is also the executive director of Musicians for Pension Security, an organization that works for transparency and accountability in the management of retirement benefits.
“Adam is sexy, smart, funny and domestic — I found it impossible not to love him,” Ms. Wolfe said.
For Evan Welty, a close friend of Ms. Wolfe’s since childhood, the pluses of this relationship go far beyond a shared love for performance. “Adam’s passion for justice and public policy awakened Betsy to a world outside the theater,” Ms. Welty said. “For the first time I’ve seen Betsy really enjoying life.”
With an unspoken understanding, the couple slid into a devoted relationship. The actress left quirky presents and cute notes on his orchestra seat; the horn player cooked her post-show dinners, and, though he is not a coffee drinker, became expert at making Ms. Wolfe’s particular morning brew — black with a splash of coconut oil. Within the year they had moved in together.
“Broadway careers are filled with crazy ups, downs and in-betweens, and they both really get what it is the other does,” said Adam Kantor, a Broadway actor and friend of Ms. Wolfe’s with whom she often performs.
On June 15, 2015, nearly a year to the date of their first date, with Ms. Wolfe soon on her way to spending months in La Jolla, Calif., to appear in “Up Here,” Mr. Krauthamer proposed marriage. “We were deeply in love and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her,” he said.
Carving out time for a wedding between show schedules was nearly impossible: a 2015 plan to marry in a Manhattan townhouse once owned by Liz Taylor was thwarted after discovering the elevator to the only bathroom was not functioning and couldn’t be fixed on their timeline.
But on Dec. 17 just over 100 guests gathered in an outside courtyard at the Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., for a ceremony combining aspects of both families’ faiths.
Led by the groom’s brother-in-law Matt Gewolb, who was deputized by the County of San Diego for the occasion, the couple exchanged personal vows against a cascade of autumnal-colored roses and eucalyptus leaves.
Mr. Krauthamer promised to support Ms. Wolfe’s “wildest dreams and relentless work ethic” and to shop with her even “during the brief between-show break on a two-show day.”
Ms. Wolfe said Mr. Krauthamer is her “favorite and only barista.” And then she added: “You are my best friend. You are my person. You’re my home.”
As the ceremony concluded, the sun set beyond the Pacific Ocean. More than a few guests were teary, including Susan Mathews, Ms. Wolfe’s junior high school drama teacher. “There’s been no one like her before or since,” she said. In speeches, toasts and bubbling conversations, guests extolled the overwhelming generosity of the groom and bride, to their friends and families and to each other.
“I have never seen such a solid and respectful relationship,” said Dannielle Thomas, Ms. Wolfe’s manager.
Ms. Wolfe said: “My relationship is drama free, I save that for the stage.”