Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your own theatrical background?
Paul Luoma (Paul): I’ve been doing theatre since I was a kid, around six or seven, growing up in Metro Detroit. I performed all throughout childhood and into high school. I went to college at Western Michigan University for Musical Theatre Performance and, right after graduation, I moved to NYC. I was performing professionally in town, and also regionally. I actually met my wife Alicia at our day job during that time. She was the hostess at a restaurant that I was waiting tables at. And here we are together, in all, going on ten years. We moved out to LA in late 2012 and have been involved performing in the local theatre scene. We’ve had some amazing opportunities to perform together on stage in some great roles, and also apart. We’ve made the greatest of friends because of this theatre community. We’re extremely fortunate. So lucky.
Alicia Luoma (Alicia): I was bitten by the theater bug "waaay" back in elementary school when I went to see a production of “Annie” at what is now the Maltz Jupiter Theater. My mom bought me the cassette tape, and we played the soundtrack in the car non-stop, as I sang along to all of Annie's songs! I slowly began to come out of my shy shell in high school, when I became a theatre student at the A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. I was fortunate enough to venture on to Elon University, where I earned a BFA degree in Music Theatre. After graduating, I performed professionally in different parts of the country and even around the world on a cruise ship. I moved to NYC and did the "actor thing" for a couple [of] years, which is when I met my wonderful husband Paul—who just happened to share the same passion for the performing art as me. We then moved to Los Angeles, where I had the pleasure of performing in several amazing productions locally, some of them alongside my husband. We made an incredible group of talented friends doing theater out here.
(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?
(Paul): At the time of this crisis, Alicia and I weren’t part of any productions. We’re actually expecting our first child, a girl, in July. That’s a whole other bag of tricks in this current climate, trying to figure it out and manage. But we were really looking forward to seeing productions Downtown this summer, but more importantly, to seeing so many friends in productions that sadly are now postponed or have been canceled. My fingers are crossed for their entire creative team and cast, that their productions get to see the light of day that they so deserve.
(Alicia): I was not involved with any current productions, as my husband and I currently expecting our first child, a daughter, which is the only current and future production on our schedules at the moment. However, I have many, many artistic friends who were in productions that had to be postponed due to COVID-19. I felt terrible and heartbroken for them. As actors, we put our blood, sweat, and tears into these projects. There is no greater feeling/reward than transporting an audience to a different world with your work. We were also looking forward to attending several touring productions coming to LA, which also had to be canceled/postponed.
(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
(Paul): I read the theatre and Broadway trades numerous times a day, keeping an eye on things and looking out for friends. And, just the other day Alicia and I watched the entirety of “The Rosie Show” revival and donated to The Actors Fund. It’s so important to support the arts and artists at this time.
(Alicia): Many people I know have been sharing their talents via social media, whether it be singing a well-known tune a-Capella, teaching a dance class from their living room, or playing an original song on piano or guitar. I think it's wonderful. Just the other day, my husband and I watched all 3.5 hours of “The Rosie O'Donnell Show,” which streamed live for the Actor's Fund. Artists supporting artists is crucial, as we're all in this together.
(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the ghost light on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
(Paul): Alicia and I both cannot wait until we can see so many friends back on the stage, and also have a chance to get back up there too. It’ll be a hot minute as we’ll have a newborn baby girl on our hands come mid-July, but I know I can’t wait. I’m definitely itching to get back on stage. Hopefully, in something Sondheim.
(Alicia): Things will get better. Paul and I are looking forward to seeing all our talented friends back onstage in the productions they worked so hard on!
(Paul and Alicia): Local theaters need help now more than ever. We both encourage everyone, who is able, to donate if they can.
This article first appeared on Broadway World.