A Broadway Star's Childhood Crush Showed Up at Her Concert 20 Years Later — Now They're Engaged

“It sounds like a Hallmark movie,” Anastasia star Christy Altomare tells PEOPLE of her reunion with Chris Crook following their engagement

Christy Altomare
Photo: Christy Altomare

It wasn't until Christy Altomare's star performance in the Broadway production of Anastasia ended that her real-life fairytale began.

With New York City's theater scene at a standstill for most of the two years since the musical had closed, the actress returned to her hometown of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to make her solo concert debut in June 2021.

Little did Altomare know that her middle school crush was in the audience — and that her journey to the past would open the doors to an exciting new future.

"There are so many things to the story that you would literally be shocked," Altomare, 35, tells PEOPLE following her engagement to Chris Crook, who reconnected with the actress for the first time in 20 years that night at the Bucks County Playhouse.

She adds, "It sounds like a Hallmark movie."

Christy Altomare
Christy Altomare

Crook, 34, and Altomare grew up together and even shared the stage when they were 12 years old in a middle school production of Big The Musical. But the two lost touch shortly thereafter. Altomare pursued her dreams in New York City and eventually got engaged, while Crook began a life in Pennsylvania with his then-wife.

Last year, however, the two were once again single and found themselves in the same place at the same time when Crook decided to go with his mother and sister to Altomare's solo show. Though Crook's family supported Altomare as she toured nationally and performed on Broadway, the software engineer hadn't been to one of her performances in years.

"His mom is in the audience, sees me, remembers that I was engaged, [and tells] Chris, 'She's not wearing a ring!' " recalls Altomare.

Later, at the stage door when Crook and his family went to say hello, Crook remembers, "She could not look me in the eye."

Meanwhile, says Altomare, "That whole night, he kept saying his mouth hurt because he couldn't stop smiling."

The next day, they would meet again — this time at the funeral for Bill Hallman, who directed them in their middle school production of Big in 2000.

There, Altomare says, "I mentioned stealthily, I still have my old AOL email address, and he [later] sends me this long email saying, 'If you're ever in town and you wanna come hang out some time…' And then we started to date, and it was magical. We didn't sleep for five days straight, we just [stayed] up all night talking."

So much so, "I had slept through my 10 a.m. stand-up meeting, trying to get an hour of sleep before work," Crook recalls.

"I had a crush on her back in the day," he admits, adding that the timing was just never right.

"I actually have a [childhood] scrapbook of every boyfriend that I've ever had, with details about them — like printed-out emails and conversations on AOL instant messenger — and I have an email from Chris that's basically him professing his love for me," says Altomare, who had a middle school boyfriend at the time.

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Christy Altomare
Christy Altomare

Now that the stars have finally aligned for the pair, Altomare and Crook are taking their long-awaited love affair to the next level.

On Saturday, Crook brought Altomare back to the Bucks County Playhouse to propose in the exact same spot they reunited — and they celebrated that night with dinner and a show.

"It was a perfect day," says Altomare. "It blows both of our minds, but we're very much in love."

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