Husband-and-wife duo Graham Fenton and Nicole Kaplan are singing and dancing their way into Vegas showbiz history.
There’s no more perfect home than Las Vegas for Nicole Kaplan and her husband, Graham Fenton, performers seemingly blessed by Lady Luck.
It was a memorable night in Las Vegas. At Don’t Tell Mama, a piano bar in the city’s Fremont East entertainment district, a talented singer in the audience was persuaded to get up onstage and perform Lorde’s hit song “Royals”—a rendition that thrilled the packed crowd.
Minutes later, a man entertained the saloon by singing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” directing the audience to fill in the song’s horn parts. As patrons rose to cheer, one remarked, “Wow, is he good.”
He should be. His full-time job is portraying Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys at Paris Las Vegas. And the woman who preceded him? That’s his wife, who now stars in Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers.
Perhaps not a typical night on the town, but magical moments like this tend to happen to Graham Fenton and Nicole Kaplan. As their careers have sent them crisscrossing the country, they’ve been touched by serendipity.
The two met in Pittsburgh in 2001, while students at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music, when they were cast in a production of The Most Happy Fella. “I would sometimes miss cues because I was staring at her,” Fenton says, laughing. “It was instant infatuation.”
Eventually they began dating, and after graduation, when Kaplan won the starring role of Dory in the production of Finding Nemo at Walt Disney World, Fenton followed her to Florida. While there, he answered an audition call for the part of Valli in the national tour of Jersey Boys. “If I weren’t performing in Orlando at the time, he wouldn’t have taken that audition,” she says. “It was amazing timing.”
He, of course, won the role and went out on tour. In 2008, back in Pittsburgh, they were married—with Fenton serenading his bride with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” But soon he was off to Vegas to perform in Jersey Boys on the Strip. This time Kaplan was the one to follow, unsure that her classical training was suited for the city’s flashy productions. Her gigs included singing on tour with Terry Bradshaw’s autobiographical show. She was in Vegas when that tour ended in late 2014—just in time to receive a call from Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers, which needed to fill a role that had opened among its six principal singers.
“If I’d been on tour with Terry, I wouldn’t have been able to make the audition,” says Kaplan. “I walked in, and Steve Wynn is there, ready to make a decision.” When they asked her to stick around and be fitted for costumes, “I thought, Wow, this is happening, right on the spot.”
Fenton remembers the call from his wife when she realized she was joining him as a star of a production show on the Strip: “She says, ‘I got the job, and I’m in rehearsals now!’ And I was like, ‘Oh, my God. Are you sure?’” Fenton adds, “This never happens, trust me. It never happens this way.”