Monday, February 26, 2024

On Sept. 26, 2021, Colin Ernest Barkell observed Kayla Dianne Pecchioni caressing her hairless kitten at a screening of the Tony Awards. He was immediately drawn to her, particularly because of the cat. They both resided in Harlem and were involved in the performing arts. Ms. Pecchioni worked as a swing role and understudy in Broadway’s “Some Like It Hot,” while Mr. Barkell was a former professional Irish dancer and had recently formed a rock band called King Vaudeville.

Their meet-up at the Marquee at Block 37 apartments was not a coincidence. They had both been cast in the musical “Paradise Square,” which premiered in Chicago before moving to Broadway. Both had attended the Tonys screening with their castmates during rehearsals. Ms. Pecchioni, who had brought her adopted hairless cat named Paw McCatney as an emotional support animal, found comfort in having the kitten and it served as a conversation starter. Mr. Barkell was immediately intrigued by the cat and considered Ms. Pecchioni potential new friend material.

Ms. Pecchioni grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and had a close relationship with her maternal grandparents. She had a passion for performing and had worked on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises before moving to Manhattan. Mr. Barkell, on the other hand, was born in Long Beach, California, and later moved to Virginia because of his father’s career in the U.S. Marines. He had a background in Irish dancing and pursued it while studying geography in college.

Although they initially saw each other as acquaintances, their perception quickly changed when they spent time together in Chicago. During a sightseeing tour, they discovered they both loved Nickelback, which was a pivotal moment in their relationship. From then on, their connection grew stronger, and Mr. Barkell realized he was falling in love with Ms. Pecchioni. He expressed his love for her a week and a half later, and shortly after, they officially became a couple.

After the show closed, Mr. Barkell moved into Ms. Pecchioni’s Harlem apartment. They road-tripped to Nashville, Louisville, and Michigan to visit their respective families, who were supportive of their relationship. When “Paradise Square” debuted on Broadway, Mr. Barkell was already planning to propose. He designed a unique ring with the help of a jeweler in Michigan and proposed to Ms. Pecchioni on Oct. 3. They got married on Oct. 8.

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