Life throws you some amazing curveballs. I feel very grateful to be able to continue to live my dream as a dancer on Broadway as well as be a mum to a gorgeous little girl, Matilda. It is not often that family can blossom with a performing career, but I’m happy I get to experience it all.
I am an Australian who had been living in Los Angeles for four years with my lovely husband. I had submerged myself in the non-union regional theatre world out there, and I loved the experiences and shows I got to be involved in, mostly. I did meet some of the most supportive people in these shows, who helped me further my career in many ways, but it was almost impossible to survive on non-union wages. Performers are a resilient and hardworking breed; we do whatever jobs we can to continue working for our dream. The day I got the phone call from my agent about Hamilton, I was just about to walk into my waitressing job at Islands, a very unglamorous burger joint.
Life has changed quite a lot since then.
I had auditioned for the first national tour for Hamilton in Los Angeles. After being on hold for three months, my agent finally called and told me, “You didn’t get the tour.” Well crap, I thought to myself, all that waiting and hoping for nothing. “No,” my agent said. “They want you to be a replacement on Broadway.” I was dumbfounded, that option was nowhere on my radar. Tears streamed down my face. I was going to get to live my dream.
The next couple of months were crazy - we moved our lives to New York. Well, my husband was bicoastal, but packing your life into two and a half suitcases for an unknown time frame can be daunting. Over the next few weeks, life came pretty fast as I dove into rehearsals for this mammoth show. Hamilton pushed me both physically and mentally. I second-guessed myself each day, but I had to get on that stage to prove to myself I was meant to be there. Finally, the day arrived. This Aussie made her Broadway debut as the Woman 2 ensemble track in Hamilton. It was the most exhilarating, nerve-racking, exhausting and fulfilling experience of my life so far.
Little did I know what lay ahead.
I had been living my life in the show for about seven months. Just to throw a spanner in the works, my husband and I found out that we were unexpectedly expecting. My initial reaction was probably not the most endearing, I mean, I was shocked and upset. I wasn’t prepared for this part of life to open up to me just yet. I had just reached my dream job and I still wanted to live it. I hated the thought that this may be it for me, that I may not be given an opportunity to come back to the show after giving birth, and I didn’t know if I would physically be able to.
I left the show at five months pregnant. I couldn’t have pushed my body any further. I felt like Superwoman to have made it that long in such a physically demanding show. Crazy to think that my little girl was growing in my belly and getting her own Broadway debut listening to the songs of Hamilton. Our baby Matilda was born three and a half weeks early, healthy, happy, and beautiful. We became parents: the actual most exhilarating, nerve-racking, exhausting and fulfilling experience of our lives.
The Hamilton company and cast were more supportive then I could have ever hoped for. They showered us with love throughout the pregnancy and birth of Matilda. In addition, they ensured me that my track in the show was waiting for me when I was ready to return.
I found the transition to motherhood very difficult. It is a whole other foreign world that you really don’t understand until you become a parent. It has definitely made me appreciate all the parents out there and so admire parents in this crazy industry. The lifestyle of a performer usually involves many late nights. We are expected to be free at the drop of a hat for an audition or rehearsal or class or gig. It’s a forever changing, busy, selfish lifestyle and the introduction of a baby completely turns it upside down. You now have someone who completely and utterly depends on you. Someone that you want to be able to give your all to in every moment you get to spend together.
I’m just newly back in the show, and I can already tell there are going to be many ups and downs in the coming months and years. Whether it’s juggling schedules, babysitters, and feeling that mother’s guilt from not always being there. But as a performer, I feel like I need both a career and family to be the best mum I can be.
It feels exhilarating to be back as a cast member of Hamilton. I was nervous for the few brush-up rehearsals I had, but being back on that stage feels like I am where I am meant to be, like I never left, and that I have an old piece of me back again. However, with parenthood and a Broadway schedule comes a whole new level of exhaustion; the lack of sleep, breastfeeding and getting my body back into show shape is definitely waning on me. But being able to continue working on Broadway and raising our gorgeous girl is more then I could ever have hoped for. I could not be doing this without the support of my husband, who is the best dad Matilda could ask for.
As a performer, you have that one goal you always hope to reach. It’s a little ambitious and a distant possibility, but we always like to think that it may happen “one day.” For me, that goal was Broadway. I still thank my lucky stars. Somehow they all aligned and I get to perform in one of the most influential musicals of all time, with the added miracle of a gorgeous girl and family to share it with.