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Sweethearts, on and off the stage

Max Tachis and Roneet Aliza Rahamim talk life, love and new production 'Taking Steps'

In their first production together, Max Tachis' character had to put his head under Roneet Aliza Rahamim's character's dress where, he recalled, due to their elaborate period costumes, it kept getting stuck.

"And the rest is history!" Rahamim said with laugh.

"My heart got stuck as well," joked Tachis.

Many shows and one wedding later, the two have proven to be successful partners, both on the stage and in life. "Taking Steps," which opened Jan. 17 at Mountain View's Pear Theatre, is their eighth production together, and their first as newlyweds.

After dropping off Hamilton, their 10-year-old Chihuahua mix, with Rahamim's parents before a long night of rehearsal, the pair met with the Weekly over tea and hot cocoa to discuss their love of theater -- and each other.

Anyone who frequents the local theater scene will recognize the dynamic duo. Perhaps you saw Rahamim in her award-winning leading role in "The Diary of Anne Frank" with Palo Alto Players or Tachis as Crumpet the Elf in "The Santaland Diaries" with TheatreWorks Silicon Valley? Last year, they co-directed, co-produced and co-starred in an ambitious, critically acclaimed production of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" at the Dragon Theatre in Redwood City.

"That was a really wild experience," Rahamim said, of the rewarding but demanding project. "It's a lot of work, and there's a lot of pieces flying in every direction."

The two officially met in 2014 at "Amadeus" auditions at City Lights in San Jose (although Rahamim had seen and admired Tachis in a prior show) and struck up a friendship, pushed along by a mutual friend and castmate.

"She said, 'I think you should be dating Max. I think that's a good idea.' And she would not let up at all," Rahamim said. "So we were just slowly tuned into each other and it all worked out."

For most couples, moving in together can require an adjustment period. Living and working together can have an even steeper learning curve. Aside from the scheduling of dog care when both are busy with productions, Tachis and Rahamim also have contended with having very different working styles.

Tachis recalled a time soon after moving in together when they were carpooling to a mutual audition, with Rahamim wanting to discuss every detail aloud as he silently panicked.

"I'm like a squirrel. I take it and I kind of hide it somewhere and I go and I deal with it on my own for a while. That's how I process certain things, character-wise," he said. "Roneet is very outward, bouncing ideas. We just had to work out a schedule. 'This is Max time and then this'll be Roneet time and this'll be Max and Roneet time.' I think we've got it dialed in now."

They sometimes fantasize about starting a company of their own -- in an abandoned roller rink that could become a theater in the round, for instance, or a space that could be a coffee shop by day and venue by night. But the Midpeninsula natives are also well aware of the challenges Bay Area living poses to those pursuing the arts.

Rahamim grew up in Palo Alto, went to New York City to study acting, then returned west.

"I came back knowing that I wanted to be more involved in the theater scene and really make a go of it with acting," she said. "It's so much more expensive to live here, but there's something really special about the theater community that I think is really unique, that has made me want to stay."

After a slew of day jobs including at a bike store and a flooring shop, she now works from home in Campbell for a small startup. Tachis, who works for Facebook, grew up in Redwood City and stumbled upon theater as a student at CaƱada College.

"I met actors for the first time there and decided that is what I want to do," he said. "So I dropped out and decided I would work during the day and fuss around with these theater companies at night."

Because they're usually so busy with theater -- either together or in overlapping productions -- when they took a brief break from the stage after their August wedding, they found themselves slightly flummoxed by the downtime at home.

"We were like, 'Ah, let's play real people tonight,'" Rahamim said, imitating exaggerated formality. "'Should we open up a bottle of wine? What would you like to watch on the TV?' That is to say, I think for the majority of the relationship, someone's been in rehearsals."

"Taking Steps," their current production, is a farce by Alan Ayckbourn -- full of mistaken identities, plans gone awry and physical comedy, and set in a Victorian mansion in the English countryside.

Tachis plays the anxiety-ridden solicitor attempting to help with the purchase of the possibly-haunted house, while Rahamim plays a runaway bride who's locked in a closet for much of the show. Both relish the chance to flex their British accents, as well as their silliness skills.

"The conceit of the show is that the set is entirely flat. Stairs are painted on the ground, so we're not actually going upstairs," Rahamim explained. "People are existing in the same space even if they are in separate rooms on separate floors of the house."

She said she hoped audiences have as much fun watching it as the cast has had working on it. "Because we're having a blast."

In the future, Rahamim would like to try her hand at directing something Tachis has written.

"I think I would really enjoy it because I have a different insight into how the writing came to be and so I would want to see if that's a good match. The idea of putting your partner in the role of translating your work," Rahamim said. "We enjoy working together for sure."

What: "Taking Steps."

Where: The Pear Theatre, 1110 La Avenida, Mountain View.

When: Through Feb. 9. Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.

Cost: $30-$34.

Info: The Pear.

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