From Chestnut Hill to Broadway: A local love story

by Len Lear
Posted 6/13/24

Michael Schantz discovered acting at Chestnut Hill Academy. Meanwhile, Mary Cadden Tucker was acting in musicals at Springfield Township High School.

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From Chestnut Hill to Broadway: A local love story


Michael Schantz discovered acting in middle school as a student at Chestnut Hill Academy. Before that, he believed professional golf was his calling, or maybe a career in the fine art of ceramics.

A few miles away, at about the same time, Mary Cadden Tucker was acting in musicals at Springfield Township High School. She knew she wanted to be an actress since kindergarten.

Tucker and Schantz knew some of the same people in high school but never met during those years when they graduated in the early 2000s. By sheer coincidence, Schantz and Tucker also attended New York University at the same time, but still never met.

Then, in February 2022, more than two decades later, Schantz and Tucker, by then successful actors in New York City, ventured onto a dating app. In her profile, Tucker mentioned growing up in the Chestnut Hill area. When Schantz spied their Philadelphia-area connection, he sent Tucker a rose and indicated that he also was a Chestnut Hill native. Love entered, stage right.

The talented theatrical duo are now engaged and planning a wedding, tentatively scheduled for the New York Botanical Garden on Sept. 7, in a venue overlooking the Bronx River. The couple currently live between Central Park and Riverside Park in mid-Manhattan, but the Northwest Philadelphia area remains a homebase for family, friends and memories.

"We love coming back to Chestnut Hill," said Tucker, whose mother, Jeremy Jones, is a former "Shop Local" columnist for The Local. "It's fun as adults to walk or run through the area and share memories and show people where we grew up. I sang at Our Mother of Consolation Parish. We'll run into people I know or Michael knows. My mom still lives in Chestnut Hill."

Schantz's parents live in Plymouth Meeting. His father, Michael Schantz Sr., was executive director and chief curator at Woodmere Art Museum for 29 years. When Schantz visits his parents, he says he can't wait to "run in the Wissahickon."

Tucker, whose professional name is Cadden Jones, was inducted into Springfield High School's Hall of Fame in 2020, and has appeared in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "FBI: Most Wanted" and numerous TV commercials. She most recently appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for the collegiate Big Ten Conference. Schantz has appeared in television's "City on a Hill" and "The Blacklist" and has many theater credits nationally.

What is it like to go to audition after audition and be rejected over and over again, even if you received raves for previous roles?

"Everyone has a certain approach to being rejected," Schantz said. "It is important to have a community of people who have gone through the same thing, so you know you are not alone. Everyone gets rejected. You must have a thin skin to be vulnerable, but a thick skin so it can roll off your back."

Tucker added, "You have no control over it. There are so many factors in casting. You might look like the casting director's ex-girlfriend. It is helpful to me to see who finally did get cast. I'm often more frustrated about a role I felt I was right for but did not even get the opportunity to audition for."

She experienced another disappointment when she was scheduled to travel to Italy to play the wife of Robert Downey Jr.'s character in a movie, but the whole scene was cut. "You do everything you possibly can, but there are so many levels and layers and things you cannot control," Tucker said. "You just have to surrender to it for your own mental health."

Schantz said that when your partner is an actor, there is a built-in empathy. "You know he or she really gets it. This is a weird profession to choose. I trained with great actors, so I knew this was a lifestyle most people would not want to pursue. The first two or three years after grad school, I waited on tables and taught acting, voice and speech. I also did nude modeling, catering and consulting."

Another issue that many performers face is addiction. Tucker, who had to take a stage pseudonym because there was already a professional actress named Mary Tucker, says that she has been sober for 17 years, and Schantz said without hesitation that he has been sober for 13 years.

"It is crazy to be an actor," Tucker said. "It's like jumping off a cliff every time you do it. And it doesn't get easier. The nerves don't go away. I still live in fear of not getting the next job, but it is an exciting career path, and it keeps life interesting."

For more information, visit, a consulting and communications firm created by Tucker and Schantz during the pandemic.

Len Lear can be reached at