Everyone who has ever seen a Broadway show has their own special story. It’s about having that ticket ripped (or scanned, now), entering the theatre, sitting down and checking the Playbill, and ... being changed forever. Maybe your parents brought you to NYC during the holidays. Maybe you came on a class trip. Maybe it was your honeymoon that brought you to Broadway for the first time. Whether it was 50 years ago or just last week, we want to know how Broadway changed you.
CHISTOPHER'S BROADWAY STORY: BAG-CHECKING BROADWAY
When I was little, around 5 years old, I came up to NYC for the first time from Asheville, North Carolina with my family. We were visiting my godfather, who worked at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Times Square. Lucky for us, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route passed by his job and I was granted a special seat right by the window overlooking all the action. I still remember the feeling of my little nose pressed up against the glass when the giant Snoopy floated by, and thinking "this city is magic."
Seventeen years later, I had been acting throughout college, and called up my godfather. I told him I wanted a change from the small town life. I decided to come to NYC, the home of one of my favorite childhood memories, to pursue a career in the theater. I couch-surfed with my godfather for two weeks and before I knew it, I had my first gig in the little-known, longest-running show in New York City history, an off-off-Broadway play, Line, which has been going for about 42 years.
I also have a theater troupe in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, which performs free Shakespeare for anyone who cares to stop and listen. At the same time, I'm working as a bag checker for some of the most iconic Broadway Theaters!
On any given night of the week, you might find me at the Palace Theater greeting little girls in ballet slippers who've come to see An American In Paris, or smiling at long-time theater-goers who've come to see the first Broadway revival of CATS at the Neil Simon and make new memories. Alternately, on some nights, I'm welcoming first time Broadway attendees at The Minskoff Theater, home to The Lion King.
Tonight, I'm checking bags at the Brooks Atkinson Theater, for visitors here to see Waitress. The most beautiful moment I've witnessed in my role here was when one night, audience members were welcomed to fill out cards and share their thoughts on the show. A woman came forward who shared that she had suffered domestic abuse in a relationship, and that the show had inspired her to seek help.
I think that's amazing, how a Broadway show can deal with a dark topic, in a lighthearted manner, while serving pies, and make a serious difference in the world.
My advice for travelers to NYC is this:
Enjoy the feeling of awe that comes over you at first, like when I was little and the parade floats were bobbing by, but also treat it like a small town. Make a small group of friends and set incremental goals towards your dreams. Oh, and try bag-checking on Broadway, you'll meet some truly unique, wonderful people!
BROADWAY ESSAY CONTEST OFFICIAL RULES: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Spotlight on Broadway Essay Contest is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States (and Washington, D.C.) who are at least fifteen (15) years old at the time of entry. Contest starts August 20, 2016, at 12 a.m. ET, and ends December 31, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Read the official rules here. Void where prohibited. Sponsored by Broadway Inbound, Inc., 520 8th Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
Photograph by Joseph Pirolli