by Ramone Owens
All day long, I’d been seeing pictures on social media of fellow cast mates and team members at the Winter Garden Theatre. Every time I “double tapped,” I’d get more and more excited. Eventually, I decided I had to go down and see the theater for myself.
I live in Brooklyn, so I’m not in midtown too often without proper reason; luckily, that evening I was invited to Call Me Madame’s final dress run at Encores! I planned to go to the show and pop over to the Winter Garden after.
The show ended, I greeted my friends and fled out of the door rushing to the Winter Garden. As I approached 53rd and 7th, I could see the marquee at the stage door. I began to walk faster, heart pounding, like opening the largest gift under the Christmas tree. I took out my phone to make a video but all I could say was... ”you guys! You Guys! YOU GUYS!” To whom? I have no idea. My heart was nearly out of my chest, and I felt myself about to explode. I arrived at the stage door marquee on 51st and 7th and just stood. The word Beetlejuice had never looked cooler or brighter. I could have screamed of pure excitement and joy.
It was happening.
I literally ran around the corner to the front of the theater as if a stranger took off in my Uber. When I turned the corner, I was immediately halted by how massive the marquee was. Pride began to fill my chest, tears welled in my eyes and a strong sense of belonging came over me. I took out my phone and immediately started taking pictures; portrait mode, square, filtered, unfiltered, boomerangs... all of it. Then I’d stop and stare again. Imagining in a few months what the day to day of walking into work would feel like, picturing a regimen of when I’d work out and where I’d get my iced coffee from in the summertime. Planning out life with this exciting new work space as my home away from home, for however long it lasts.
I joined the cast of Beetlejuice in August 2018 for the DC out-of-town tryout as an ensemble member. It was only a couple of weeks into rehearsal that we were announced an official Broadway run at the Winter Garden. Everyone was thrilled about the move to Broadway - thrilled but well aware that there were no proper guarantees of transferring, considering DC was still technically a developmental production. About a week after closing in DC, I got my call to join the company on Broadway.
Beetlejuice will be my second Broadway show. The first closed rather quickly (it happens). After so many years in the business, on tour and countless out-of-town regional productions, I am so grateful to be apart of an original Broadway show. For as long as I’ve lived in New York, I have never stayed in the city an entire year. Work has kept me away — hashtag grateful— but New York has never quite felt like home for that reason. I turn 30 years old on our first day of rehearsal; a gift that no one could plan or properly give me... that makes nine years in the business, with Beetlejuice being my first original Broadway company.
With a new decade of life ahead, I can see how time and opportunity have aligned; and it makes sense. The hard work, the unemployment, the “in between gigs,” the tears of frustration, the auditions that I completely nailed and didn’t book, the pains and the small victories. All of it has lead to this moment: staring at the marquee, a dream realized.