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Mark Sanchez Hearts Jamie Lynn Sigler, Theater

First Mark Sanchez took Jamie Lynn Sigler on a date to see David Mamet's Race, and then, last night, he was leading her around backstage at the Tony awards. What’s surprising about this scenario is not that two good-looking and relatively down-to-earth celebrities have found each other, but that the quarterback of the New York Jets turns out to be an unabashed theater nerd. When we cornered him backstage right before he went on to introduce a number from Memphis, his favorite show of the year, he told us his interest in Broadway originated with his mom taking him to see The Lion King in L.A. when he was 10. More recently, a family friend, Susan Evans, took him to see 9 to 5 and Rock of Ages, and ever since that he’s been hooked. “I kind of fell in love with it,” he said, “and I’m fortunate enough to play for the Jets so I’m taking advantage of every opportunity: The food, the fans, the Broadway shows. I respect everything they do.”

Sanchez was obviously in the Memphis camp, but he’s also enjoyed Promises, Promises, and has been catching up on last year’s musicals like In The Heights. He’s even trying to get his teammates into musicals. The guys make fun of him a bit, but their girlfriends appreciate it, even if Sanchez sometimes takes the musical theater proselytizing a bit far. Not too long ago, he talked tight end Jason Dustin Keller into taking his girlfriend to see Memphis. “She was like, ‘Oh, really!?’ And then he was like, ‘Yeah! We’re going with Mark,’ and she was a little less happy about that.” As for Sigler, Sanchez will only define their relationship as a couple of theater-lovers spending time together. (He took her to see Fences the night before the Tonys.) “We’re having fun. Taking it slow. She’s a sweetheart,” he said. He is, however, feeling more and more integrated into the theater world. Why? “Well,” he said, “I had to act last year and pretend I knew what I was doing out there.”

Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images