A Broadway Star Gets Married With Help From Daniel Radcliffe

A Broadway Star Gets Married With Help From Daniel Radcliffe

On Broadway, with most shows shuttered, Monday is typically the day actors and crews rest and recharge.

Or, if you’re Lindsay Michelle Mendez and John Alex Brinson, it’s the day you get married.

Ms. Mendez currently stars as Mary Flynn in the musical “Merrily We Roll Along,” so the wedding was planned not just around her schedule, but that of the officiant and ring bearer’s, too — Ms. Mendez’s castmates Jonathan Groff and Daniel Radcliffe.

Ms. Mendez and Mr. Brinson, who is also an actor and goes by J. Alex Brinson, first met in 2019 while working on the CBS courtroom procedural “All Rise.” Ms. Mendez played the court reporter and Mr. Brinson the bailiff. In the very first episode, Mr. Brinson’s character jumped up to protect Ms. Mendez and their other castmates during a dramatic scene.

“My hero from day one,” Ms. Mendez said. “Even in storytelling form.”

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At first, the pair were just friends; both were married to other people at the time. Three years and many episodes of “All Rise” later, in the spring of 2022, they took one step closer to becoming something more when Ms. Mendez, who had divorced, asked Mr. Brinson to move in with her … as a roommate.

“He was living in a hotel and filming and had to drop his laundry at a random place,” said Ms. Mendez, who has a daughter named Lucy, now 3, from her previous marriage. “I said, ‘you know, I have a 1-year-old at my house and a pullout sofa. I don’t know if that would be interesting to anyone, but you’re welcome to stay if you need a place.’”

She didn’t think Mr. Brinson would take her up on the offer. But after calling his therapist, he surprised her by saying yes.

“My therapist was like, ‘Well, this is probably a bad idea,’” Mr. Brinson, 38, said. He was going through a divorce at the time. “But she said, ‘You can always just try it for a week, and if it doesn’t work out, go back to the hotel.’” He joined Ms. Mendez, 41, and Lucy in their two-bedroom condo in the Toluca Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

While inviting a co-worker to live on her couch might have seemed strange to some, Ms. Mendez didn’t see it that way.

“It just felt natural. I’m Mexican, that’s what we do,” she said. “We invite people to stay.”

From his view on the couch, Mr. Brinson was moved watching Ms. Mendez care for Lucy. “She was on her own and she was doing it all while filming,” he said. “It was so impressive.” Mr. Brinson said he has always wanted to be a father.

Another thing that impressed him: her Tony Award, displayed casually on a piano in the condo. Ms. Mendez won the award in 2018 for best featured actress in a musical for “Carousel.” She was recently nominated in the same category for her role in “Merrily”; Mr. Radcliffe was also nominated for best featured actor in a musical, and Mr. Groff for best leading actor in a musical.

Early on, the two bonded over common passions. Mr. Brinson, who also produces music, shared some of his work with Ms. Mendez. In return, she played him some tracks from her 2013 jazz album “This Time” and songs from “Carousel.”

“Then I found the ‘Wicked’ clip of her on the morning show singing ‘The Wizard and I,’” Mr. Brinson said. (Ms. Mendez previously played Elphaba in “Wicked” on Broadway and performed it in 2013 on the “Today” show.) He thought she was “unbelievable.”

On Father’s Day that year, about two months into living together, Mr. Brinson accompanied Ms. Mendez to a party at her sister’s house in Downey, Calif. “I made him a plate of food, and he was so moved by me making him a plate,” Ms. Mendez said. “He sat and talked with my family, and we just had a really great time.”

On the drive home, Mr. Brinson realized he had fallen in love. He worried that telling the truth might ruin their friendship, but decided to take the risk anyway.

“I said, ‘I need to make a confession,” Mr. Brinson recalled saying. “‘I think I love you, but the feelings could pass.’”

“That is what he said,” Ms. Mendez said, laughing. She was “shocked,” adding they had recently been hyping each other up about getting back into dating other people.

They had plans for dinner at a sushi spot in Studio City that evening, but opted to take some time to discuss Mr. Brinson’s revelation first.

The two went for a walk around their neighborhood to process their feelings and talk about what starting a romantic relationship would mean. They discussed their finances and goals for the future. Ms. Mendez told Mr. Brinson that her daughter was her top priority. If they were ever to get married, she would want an “ironclad prenup.”

Later that same night, they shared their first kiss.

“We already really knew each other,” Ms. Mendez said. “It felt right.”

They kept the relationship a secret from the rest of their show’s cast, trying to keep their distance while between scenes. The strategy failed, and it didn’t take long for another actor on the show, the Tony Award-winner Ruthie Ann Miles, to call their bluff.

After the show wrapped in August 2022 (the final episode aired, after three seasons, in November 2023), Mr. Brinson and Ms. Mendez were headed to New York where Ms. Mendez was scheduled to begin working on “Merrily” at New York Theater Workshop. Before that began, they took a cruise to Italy with Playbill Travel, where Ms. Mendez was a featured performer.

“I was able to see how New York and the theater community received her on the boat,” Mr. Brinson said. He was struck by her kindness with fans. It was also the first time he heard Ms. Mendez perform live.

“That was it,” he said. “It was over.”

Ms. Mendez grew up in Norwalk, Calif., and attended Orange County High School of the Arts with a focus on musical theater. Mr. Brinson, who grew up in West Philadelphia, received a bachelor’s of fine arts from the Juilliard School. In addition to acting, he is currently also working in real estate.

Initially, Mr. Brinson thought he might propose to Ms. Mendez at New York Theater Workshop in October of 2022. He “soft pitched” the idea to Ms. Mendez, he said, who shut it down quickly.

“I know I share my life in a public way a lot, but I didn’t want to have that type of moment with other people watching,” Ms. Mendez said. “I wanted to have that moment for myself, for us.”

Mr. Brinson recalled the conversation a little more bluntly. “‘If you propose to me in the theater with my cast, I’m going to kill you,’” he remembered Ms. Mendez saying.

Instead, he opted for a more private setting, popping the question during a dinner on the beach in Cabo, Mexico, where the couple vacationed before the show opened.

Their wedding was similarly private, with 40 guests in attendance on April 22 at Central Park’s Bethesda Terrace. “Mostly local, New York friends,” Ms. Mendez said. Afterward, the group celebrated with a private dinner at the Lambs Club, a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.

Ms. Mendez said her castmates Mr. Groff, who was previously ordained by the Universal Life Church, and Mr. Radcliffe had played an important role in her relationship journey with Mr. Brinson. “They’ve become our really, really close friends in real life,” she said. “It just felt appropriate for Jon to marry us and for Dan to be our ring bearer.”

Lucy served as the flower girl and “took that job really seriously,” Ms. Mendez said. In addition to their vows to each other, Mr. Brinson and Ms. Mendez also exchanged vows with the toddler, committing to listen to and love her as they began their new life as a family.

A family that will soon be growing. Ms. Mendez and Mr. Brinson are expecting a baby in the fall.

When April 22, 2024

Where Central Park’s Bethesda Terrace

Happy Memories The couple chose Central Park because they often spend time there with Lucy.

Several Times a Minister Mr. Groff has officiated other weddings, including the nuptials of his former “Hamilton” castmate Phillipa Soo and the actor Steven Pasquale.

A Theatrical Affair Ms. Mendez’s brother, Michael Mendez, who is currently performing on Broadway in “Water for Elephants,” sang “Ride or Die” by Infinity Song during the ceremony. The “Wicked” composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz was also in attendance, as was Ruthie Ann Miles, the “All Rise” castmate who first suspected their relationship.

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