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Stacia Rice is ready for 35 smooches in Stage Kiss

Todd Gearhart (He) and Stacia Rice (She) in Stage Kiss.

Todd Gearhart (He) and Stacia Rice (She) in Stage Kiss.

For most of us, a passionate kiss in front of strangers could make people uncomfortable, or possibly lead to divorce if said person isn’t your spouse.

For actors, it’s another day at the office.

“It's bizarre to have your body so open to a co-worker,” says Stacia Rice, one of the stars of the Guthrie Theater’s Stage Kiss, which continues in previews this week before opening Friday.

“There are 35 kisses in this show. Thirty-four of them involve me,” Rice says.

Rice plays “She,” who plays off of “He” (Todd Gearhart). The two characters find themselves paired together, from auditions to performance. Eventually, a romance blossoms between them.

"[Ruhl’s play] is a sweet homage to the theater. It has some of its absurdity and its beauty. It’s also about the first love you have that you never quite let go of,” Rice says.

The physical side of theater also enters the equation. “It does look at the toll [theater] can take on a relationship,” Rice says.

Rice’s career has included plenty of passionate roles, with turns in Othello and A Streetcar Named Desire as well as playing in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for her own Torch Theater.

While this isn’t his first time at the Guthrie, Gearhart has worked primarily in New York and other regional theaters. “It’s been really easy to work with him. That’s not always true [with performers],” Rice says.

The chemistry built among the cast and with director Casey Stangl has helped to make the process easier. “At the Guthrie, they will always make you feel safe,” Rice says.

The play offers a marathon workout for Rice, who is offstage for a scant couple of minutes during the piece. “And that’s for costume changes,” she says.

Ruhl also offers plenty of other insights in an actor’s life. You know, the kind of things mentioned at the top of this piece. Rice also enjoys that part of the show, from the grind of rehearsing, to presenting a piece, “going to an audition for another terrible show,” she says.

IF YOU GO:

Stage Kiss

Previews through Thursday, opens Friday and runs through August 30

Guthrie Theater

818 S. Second St., Minneapolis

$40-$71 ($15-$53 for previews)

For tickets and more information, call 612-377-2224 or visit online.