I’ve heard it from other people for years, people who relocated to L.A. or New York or abroad…or wherever…that there’s no place like Chicago. It never sunk in. I was so ready to leave it. I was so ready to spread my wings and see what else was out there for me. I’ve lived in 21 different places. I love moving. I get bored. I love being transient. I thought I’d be fine. I was in no way prepared for the daily ACHE that I would feel not being in Chicago. I’ve lived in Chicago longer than I’ve lived anywhere. 10 years, almost to the day that I left to go on tour.
In Chicago you have this:
And these guys:
And these people:
And this guy:
To add insult to injury, Wild Party, a show that I had done the casting on, was going up at my beloved theater company, Bailiwick Chicago. I was so damn proud of the casting on this show. It was diverse, interesting, and not always expected. It was so hard for me to go away knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see it. It was so hard to leave my theater company which I’m inspired by every day. It was so hard to think that I wouldn’t see it. I wanted to see my girl Danni play and conquer Queenie, the most challenging role she’s had yet and to see my friend Matt in a role that I knew he would completely slaughter, not to mention the rest of the stellar cast that were carefully selected.
I tried to accept the fact that I was going to miss it and almost came to terms with it, until my mentor Sheldon Patinkin died. Then I decided it was unacceptable for me to miss it. It became unacceptable to miss anything that was important to me. So, I planned a crazy 36-hour trip to Chicago. I spent way too much money and was exhausted, but I don’t regret it at all. It was exactly what I needed. I saw the show which was beyond brilliant, but more importantly I sat on my couch, I laughed with Eric, I surprised the Wild Party cast resulting in laughter and tears.
It was the balm that I needed to help mend a broken heart. It has been so hard being away from Chicago during all of the tragedy that has befallen our little theater community this Fall. I needed to breathe Chicago’s air and feel the energy and share laughs with my friends. Friends who were also hurting.
I’ve been struggling with coming to terms with whether I can be a commercial actress, whether I can turn my back on the grit of the storefront scene and move into the machine of big commercial musicals. I’ve dipped my toe in here and there, but this tour is the beginning of full immersion into a very different type of theater. And while I LOVE the big show that I’m working on right now, I don’t know if I could give up the challenging, meaty, intimate, relevant shows I’ve been lucky enough to work on at my theater company and in Chicago.
My friend Danielle lifted my burden and freed my heart when she said, “You’re doing that so you can come back and do this.” And she’s right. I am a Chicago girl. I can go other places. I can do other things, but my heart will always be in Chicago. And now that I’ve come to terms with that I feel like I can actually let go and enjoy the adventure that I’m on, because while I don’t know what the future holds for me, I know I’m coming back. And this adventure deserves my full attention. 🙂