The story of Christopher Demos-Brown and Stephanie Demos-Brown’s romance is fit for a courtroom drama. The two met at the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office where they were both training as prosecutors after law school. Now the husband-and-wife team are partners in life and law, working together as trial lawyers in Miami.
When they’re not at the office, they’re at Zoetic Stage, a professional theatre company in residence at the Adrienne Arsht Center that they co-founded in 2010 with another couple. Chris serves as the company’s literary manager and Stephanie is the president of the board.
This fall they’re splitting their time between Miami and New York City, where Chris is preparing to make his Broadway debut with the play American Son. The drama opens on Nov. 4 with a star-studded cast including Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan, and Eugene Lee.
“Chris was up this morning at 7 writing a response for a hearing that we have coming up, and then he went over to his rehearsal after he finished writing his pleading,” says Stephanie.
“Lawyering by morning and playwriting by afternoon,” adds Chris with a laugh.
American Son was inspired by the mother of a woman who worked as a prosecutor with Chris and Stephanie. The play, which had its world premiere at Barrington Stage Company in 2016, follows a mother engaged in a search for her missing son at a Florida police station in the middle of the night.
Planning for court cases, rehearsals, writing, and organizing fundraisers for Zoetic Stage—and raising two daughters, ages 11 and 13—gives the couple plenty to juggle. How do they do it? Stephanie offers one clue: that her husband “is a magnificent multi-tasker and never sits still, and has more energy than anybody you know.”
Before law school Chris pursued an acting career in Los Angeles for two years. When he arrived at the state attorney’s office in Florida, Stephanie was tasked with training him on a caseload.
“We were together every single day, and we just really hit it off, and it was perfectly platonic,” Stephanie insists. “We went to dinner one night, and somehow we started talking about donating blood.” The two discovered that they are both unable to give blood because they are carriers of a blood disorder called thalassemia.
“Thalassemia is this thing where, if you have the recessive trait of it, you’re just mildly anemic, but if you marry somebody who has the recessive trait, you have a one in four chance of having kids that are really sick,” explains Chris.
“I had not researched it that far, and I just thought, I can’t marry him,” says Stephanie. “I can’t have children with him, because we both have thalassemia. Mind you, we had never even gone on a date. But that’s when it dawned on me, wow, I must really like this guy, because now I’m worried about not being able to have kids with him. So we promptly went into the parking lot and I kissed him.”
“Classy first,” says Chris. “We made out in the parking lot.”
Most of their early dating was at the theatre, including dates to see the Susan Stroman-directed revival of The Music Man and a tour of Sunset Boulevard.
“My parents introduced me to theatre, I think when I was seven years old,” says Stephanie. “My first play was Carol Channing in Hello Dolly! I adored theatre before Chris and I ever got together.”
The pair discovered that their theatre connection even predated their days at the state attorney’s office: After college Chris had co-founded an improvisational group called Mental Floss, and Stephanie, who was still in high school at the time, attended the group’s improv performances because it was “the hip thing to do.”
“When I found out Chris had been in Mental Floss, I said that there’s only one sketch that I remember,” says Stephanie. “I told him which one it was, and he said he was the only person that ever did that sketch.”
Writing gradually replaced Chris’s aspirations to be onstage. “What I learned was that I’m a very limited actor, which I think really helped me as a writer,” says Chris. “I try to write with a lot of clarity for actors. I’m assuming that if I can play what I’m writing, then anybody should be able to.”
The last time Chris acted was on their wedding day. He was shooting a scene in a high school auditorium for an independent film—ironically, playing a prosecutor—hours before he showed up to exchange vows. And though the Everglades were then on fire and ashes were falling from the sky that day, their wedding celebration was buoyed by a big Greek band.
“Stephanie is Greek, so a small Greek wedding is in the four digits,” says Chris. “The wedding was huge—just a great big party, a lot of fun.”
And while they still see a lot of theatre together—they’re planning on seeing a number of shows during their time in New York— they also do yoga, travel, attend Miami Hurricane games, ballroom dance, and, of course, work together at Zoetic Stage.
The seedlings for Zoetic Stage were formed at a writing competition held at Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, Fla., where Chris and Stephanie met playwright Michael McKeever and the man who is now his husband, Stuart Metzler, and who serve as managing director and artistic director, respectively.
“We shared a love of theatre, wine, food, and politics,” says Chris. Stuart expressed his dreams of starting a theatre company. “We were just young enough and stupid enough to think that was a good idea,” says Chris with a laugh.
It turns out that it was a good idea. The company, now eight years old, is in residence at the Arsht Center, which provides the space, ticketing services, and ushers.
“The idea behind Zoetic was really to create another regional theatre that would keep great artists in South Florida, so that they wouldn’t have to leave to go somewhere else to find work,” says Chris.
The theatre produces a mix of contemporary plays and musicals, and Chris has had the opportunity to develop his own works there, most recently his play Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts last season.
This season the company is commissioning a Cuban American playwright and hopes to continue developing and producing new voices. The season lineup also includes The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Every Brilliant Thing, and Sweeney Todd.
For now, Stephanie and Chris have two plays in particular to focus on: their daughters’ middle school production of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and, you know, the show on Broadway.
“I don’t think that any cast we ever dreamed of could even top this,” says Stephanie of the American Son ensemble.
Their daughters agree. In addition to seeing their father’s play, the Hamilton fans looking forward to meeting the cast.
“The only reason they’re excited to see my play is because Steve Pasquale is married to Phillipa Soo, so they get to meet Phillipa Soo,” concedes Chris.