My friend Natalie is a very special example of inspiration. She and I met at the auditions for West Side Story, in late 2015. After being teamed as a dance couple, we hit it off right away and have been close friends ever since. Her life story is one of dedication to a dream, of commitment to training, and of breathing inspiration. As our work in West Side Story progressed, she nailed an audition for the touring company of RENT, celebrating 20 years to its debut, and got cast in her first touring-Broadway production.
When she left for RENT, I was already planning my Broadway conquest, a plan she has been deeply involved in, by sharing her experience and guiding me through my first steps. In fact, this blog, a powerful reflecting tool and a supporting foundation of my journey, was inspired by her (see also – All Beginnings Are Hard).
Over the past weekend I got the privilege and treat of spending time with Natalie, as the RENT tour arrived at the State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ, and with impeccable timing, as Natalie’s part in this tour was just coming to its conclusion. Natalie set up for us to share a room in the hotel where the cast was staying, five minutes away from the theater, so this way we got to spend time together in between the shows, and I got a sneak peek at tour life.
Being the guest of a cast member came along with its exquisite benefits. I got to hang out with her incredibly talented co-cast members, see how the production works behind the scenes; from signing-in, curtain calls, warm ups and gossip, all of which I’d only seen on YouTube until then. The entire experience was symbolized more than all by the RENT staff badge I got to wear, and which made feel like a part of the family for these few days.
Seeing the show twice gave me an opportunity to closely examine the technicality in which such shows must be performed. The accuracy of movements, gestures, texts and sounds was alarming – this is Broadway baby – you got to make the magic happen each time, eight shows a week.
Aside from that, I got to spend my Shabbos with Natalie in the beautiful town of New Brunswick, discussing art, performance, tour life, dreams and inspiration. As a dreamer who’s making his first steps, it was ever more special to closely follow Natalie’s last year – from West Side Story in Tel Aviv to the dream job in RENT, and soon to be – back in Israel, in a production of Hairspray. Natalie has been devoted to her musical theater career for many years, and has definitely reached a peak in her career. Now, she is following her heart once more, back to Israel, ever attentive to her own heart beat and to the needs of her soul. I thinks it’s incredible to live your dream, but then make even more specific choices, which don’t necessarily shine as bright as the neon lights of Broadway, but nonetheless, they are entirely your choices.
Good luck to you Natalie, and thank you for such an incredible opportunity to spend time with you and see you shine. The stars are ever aligned for you – as long as you follow your heart.