Four years ago today, I packed up (most of) my Connecticut room and shipped myself to Manhattan to begin the most wild, exhilarating, maddening, and rewarding chapter of my life. I have spent (most of) those one thousand, four hundred and sixty days soaking up the city lights, taking late night cabs, swearing at the MTA, meeting hundreds of new faces, and waking up to the morning skyline.
Over one hundred auditions, shows seen, and lattes later, this city never ceases to reveal more and more moments to fall deeper in love. Some days, I still feel like a newbie, yet all the same, I feel like I’ve lived here my entire life. To think I arrived a completely different woman than I am today — to imagine a world where I did not yet know some of the most important people in my life, apartments I’ve lived in, or streets I’ve wandered — is a marvel.
As I sit here gazing out the bay windows of my studio apartment overlooking the sea of rooftops pouring through Manhattan, filled to the brim with gratitude and reflection, there are so many moments that fly through my mind when I think about my time in New York. Today, I’ve recounted the most memorable to share with you.
T H E S H O W S
I have had the immense pleasure of working wardrobe for fifteen different shows since I moved here four years ago. Some were open-ended, some were limited engagements, some were straight plays, some were musicals — but every single production was crucial to my journey here and touched my soul in some way. These are simply the four that shaped my world the most.
Shortly after moving here, I tired quickly of the server life (three weeks…I lasted three whole weeks), and reached out to a well-connected friend of mine from college about a scenic artist job. She didn’t have anything for me, but passed my information along to a friend of hers looking to fill a dresser position on a new Off-Broadway musical called Heathers. I fudged my resume, smiled through the interview, and got the job; and little did I know asking that one question slowly lit up the footlights on the path of my career.
Heathers was, and always will be, one of the greatest experiences of my costuming career. I worked alongside incredibly talented people, both on and off stage. I attended my first Opening Night party (there was a champagne fountain. A champagne fountain). I got to listen to a phenomenal, new, contemporary musical every single day. It was a dream come true and the first stepping stone on a path towards success.
Almost a year to the day after closing Heathers, I was cast in a new musical called #LoveStory. The story centers around the character of Zoe Tiller, a socially-awkward, twenty-something, wannabe actress-turned-blogger living in Manhattan. Despite her big heart, she’s never been in a serious relationship, and vows to find love by any means necessary by Valentine’s Day of the following year. While I have certainly endured my fair share of love and relationships, I especially identified with Zoe during this time in my life — navigating through love and heartbreak in the twisted digital age of social media. This was one of the first times I created a character from scratch to share on a stage each night, and better yet, I got to do it alongside crazy talented people who became lifelong friends. In fact, the two ladies cast as my best friends in the show ended up becoming my two best friends in real life; and two of the greatest gifts New York has given to me. #LoveStory will forever be at the top of the index in my Manhattan memoir.
A year and a half after closing Heathers, I had wardrobe-supervised seven shows, most of which were housed at 59E59 Theaters — a building that quickly became my second home. Autumn of 2015 brought me the gift of a new 59E59 production called Songbird, a musical adaptation of Anton Chekov’s The Seagull. The actors accompanied themselves on their own instruments each night and brought to life the beautiful music of Lauren Pritchard, an artist I’ve admired for years.
This short and sweet run brought me connections to some of the most gifted individuals I’ve worked with to date; including the brilliant, Tony-nominated Erin Dilly, who quickly became a mentor, teacher, and guiding light in my world and has remained so since this wonderful show came to a close.
Spring of 2016 brought me phenomenal opportunities — namely being asked to join the dressing team for CATS. But before we get into that, I was simultaneously asked to join a new musical called Himself and Nora at the Minetta Lane Theatre prior to CATS opening. It began as a filler job, but rapidly became a show I was artistically tethered to and didn’t want to leave once it came time.
It was, again, dripping with talented people, an extraordinary score, and unforgettable friendships. This show brought me lifelines I would not be the same without — namely with Whitney Bashor — my inspiration, vocal coach, and (currently very pregnant) friend.
And here we are — the Grand Poobah of my wardrobe gigs — the Broadway Revival of CATS. This chapter of my life was undeniably transformative as it spanned eighteen months; the longest I’ve ever spent on a production. We’ve been closed for a little over two weeks and I still don’t think I’ve processed that I won’t ever walk into that Junkyard again. I got to perform on two different Broadway stages with this company, record on two different holiday albums with these brilliant performers, and watch them make magic from the wings every single day.
I will never forget the feeling in my bones at the sound of the thunderous applause on both Opening and Closing night, nor the people I met along the way. CATS is now and forever imprinted on my soul.
Once the madness of CATS settled down, I finally brought to fruition an idea that had been brewing in my mind for almost two years — a one-woman show recounting my time in Manhattan called Seams and Songs: Chronicles of a Wardrobe-Supervising Actress. I compiled songs from shows I had worked on both on and off the stage (including the ones listed above) and turned it into a chronological song-cycle of my career. It was both thrilling and terrifying, but single-handedly one of the best nights of my life.
Ironically closing a day before my four year anniversary in New York was my first EMC contract with White Plains Performing Arts Center’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I vividly remember reading the breakdown for this show online and deeming it impossible to swing as it coincided with the closing weeks of CATS. I almost didn’t submit for it — and I could not be more grateful to have changed my mind. It was so refreshing to simultaneously work at CATS while performing in this gorgeous, dark, stunning production as it propelled me one step closer towards my goals as an artist.
T H E P L A C E S
You simply cannot know me without knowing my addiction to The Chipped Cup (see chipped). Despite kicking my coffee addiction in 2012, it was reignited when I stepped into this underground mom-and-pop coffeeshop, tried a latte on a whim, and never looked back. The Chipped Cup holds the echo of my laugh, elaborate ideas, and endless secrets. It is my happy place.
Nothing will ever quite hold a candle to your first apartment in New York — and I’m not talking about your very first. I’m talking about the first apartment that feels like home. The first apartment you can call your safe space. The first apartment that is yours.
I will never forget the day I was handed the keys to my first studio apartment — I was weeks away from beginning my contract with CATS, on the verge of leaving Himself and Nora, and bidding farewell to my roommates who were moving across the country to Los Angeles. My world was about to completely shift; and I sat in the middle of Washington Square Park beaming from ear-to-ear, holding the keys to a stride in one of the newest and biggest directions of my New York life.
Even when it’s messy — overflowing with clothes I refuse to hang up, papers I have yet to sort through, and crap I’ve accumulated, I still love every inch of this place. It’s tiny, but it’s mine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are very few places I love more than I love this apartment. There are still visions dancing around my mind of how I want to transform certain parts of it — to this day it still remains a work-in-progress. But maybe that’s why I love it so much; it’s constantly evolving and there’s always room for improvement. This apartment is an ever-changing metaphor of my world in New York.
T H E P E O P L E
I was lucky enough to move here with an arsenal of friends from college at my fingertips and down the street. But this section isn’t about them — they know who they are and how much my heart beats for them.
This is about the people I’ve met here who have shaped my New York world. People I simply cannot imagine existing on this earth without knowing. People who have grown to be some of the most important people in my life. I could go on and on about every single one of them, but pictures do more justice than anything else, so, enjoy.
I don’t think it’s possible to put to words or photos what joy the people, places, and opportunities in my life have brought me over the past four years. Every single one of moment, hardship, laugh, tear, and day has shaped who I am and who I have yet to become here in Manhattan. Five audition seasons, Four apartments, Three years of relapsed coffee addiction, Two pairs of shoes that have lasted since I moved here, and One Broadway contract later, it’s hard to believe that I am still just getting started here; but I cannot wait for to love, cry, laugh and embrace every inevitable adventure that lies ahead.
Happy Anniversary, Manhattan. You are a force to be reckoned with.