By Jude Cartalaba
Manila, Philippines, October 27, 2012 - Celebrity marriages usually do not last very long. However, in the case of Resorts World Manila's "The King and I" stars and real-life couple Shiela Valderrama-Martinez, who plays the British teacher Anna Leonowens in the classic Broadway musical, and Lorenz Martinez, who plays the Burmese emissary Lun Tha in the same production, it is almost the opposite: Shiela and Lorenz have been inseparable since they first met 11 years ago.
In 2001, both appeared in Repertory Philippines' production of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical "The Secret Garden."
"That's where we met," Shiela told BroadwayWorld in an exclusive interview.
Both played ghost characters in the musical, which was based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
"It was actually our comeback from a two-year hiatus from theater," Lorenz added.
While doing "The Secret Garden," both became good friends, and eventually fell in love with each other.
They kept the lines of communication open even if one was away to work abroad. Shiela had to work as an original cast member at Hong Kong Disneyland when the theme park opened in 2005. After a year, Lorenz joined the new batch of cast members for the theme park, and he was able to follow Shiela.
A Winter Beach Wedding
After being boyfriend and girlfriend for nearly seven years, Shiela and Lorenz tied the knot by the beach in Hong Kong in 2008.
"Our wedding was themed winter beach formal," shared Shiela.
The wedding was intimate, classy, and fun; the couple had around 160 to 200 guests, half of which flew in from the Philippines.
The wedding was one fairy-tale-like occasion as the Hong Kong Disneyland orchestra and theater friends from Manila and in Hong Kong performed for Shiela and Lorenz.
The bride radiantly walked down the aisle in her Melissa Sweet wedding gown; the groom wore a suit made by a master tailor that designs for the British Royal Family. (Click to watch)
11 Years Together and Still Going Strong
Shiela and Lorenz are not a perfect couple; but both are always trying to make things work right.
Early on as husband and wife, they had Little Room for being patient with each other. However, over the years, both have matured when dealing with their personality differences. After all, marriage is about commitment.
"At first, I get annoyed over her being an 'obsessive compulsive'; but I learned to love her just the way she is," Lorenz admitted.
She takes care of his finances. He makes her laugh. Both support each other through their chosen profession - working in the theater.
"He's my mentor," Shiela affirmed her husband.
Today, Shiela and Lorenz not only play partners on and off stage, but they also assume the role of loving parents of their two-year-old daughter, Simone Leigh Emmanuelle.
When we asked Shiela and Lorenz about their advice to celebrity couples that are planning to settle down, both agreed that marriage should be a personal choice, and a decision to make it work.
"Fate is part of it, but couples must learn to accept the fact that being married is a commitment," said Shiela.
Catch Lorenz and Shiela in action in Resorts World Manila's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I" at Newport Performing Arts Theater. For more information, visit www.rwmanila.com/the-king-and-i.
Main Photo by Jeffrey Aguiman