Moving to the Theater District and Finding His Community

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Peace and peaceful do not appear quick in Midtown, but Alexander Tom has managed to find it throughout the avenue from the Gershwin Theater’s wicked witches.

Mr. Tom, 29, is the interim plan head of the musical theater software at Tempo College in Manhattan he also moonlights as an audition coach, functioning out of his condominium and area studios.

Transferring from his prior apartment in Harlem to 1 of the city’s busiest neighborhoods this Could has, for him, meant encompassing himself not just with theater, but with his neighborhood: He’ll generally go away his house and see a good friend dipping into a theater for rehearsal. West 51st Road can really feel, at periods, fewer like a two-way thoroughfare and much more like a compact city. Moving prior to rental costs begun to rebound from the pandemic slump turned out to be the proper go for Mr. Tom.

“It’s tranquil, but it feels like I can make it as loud as I want,” Mr. Tom claimed of his just one-bed room condominium. His major pandemic purchase was a Kawai piano, which he can play with gusto many thanks to his building’s prewar partitions. In truth, his subsequent-doorway neighbor plays the piano much too — they could duet, if only they could hear each and every other.

“I really don’t listen to the hustle and bustle of Midtown,” he reported, “but I can walk outside and be just in which I want to be.”

$2,025 | Midtown West

Occupation: Interim system head of the musical theater system at Speed College in Manhattan.
Favourite local coffee store: “Bibble and Sip is an AAPI-owned coffee shop, with a llama as their mascot,” Mr. Tom claimed. “They’ve bought fantastic cream puffs, the espresso is excellent — I enjoy me my Bibble.”
The clearly show you have to have to see suitable now: Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over.” “The writer does an awesome task of getting a discussion onstage, but also provoking the audience to have the conversation with by themselves,” he explained.

Previously this year, even though dwelling in a studio on 125th and Broadway, Mr. Tom uncovered himself itching for a lot more place. The studio was so tiny that it experienced taken him months to thoroughly organize all his home furnishings in a way that felt livable. He had options to invest two months this summer time in South Carolina, to do the job on a university student creation of “Hello, Dolly!” and he apprehensive that rents would boost drastically by the time he returned to the town.

Relocating downtown was a best precedence. The commute from Harlem to Pace’s campus in the financial district — which could choose up to an hour and a 50 percent, relying on the whim of the M.T.A. — had started to place a pressure on Mr. Tom. A lot of of his workdays commenced with 9 a.m. courses and ended with rehearsals that went late into the night, indicating that he would arrive residence after midnight and need to have to be up at 5 a.m. to get started all more than yet again. “I’m youthful and sprightly,” he said, “but I’m not that young, and I’m not that sprightly.”

The commute would will need to shorten. So he set his eyes on an apartment below 72nd Avenue and above 14th, on the lookout largely at flats in Hell’s Kitchen area and Midtown West, or near Lincoln Sq.. In Harlem, he had become accustomed to sure amenities that he realized he would not want to portion with, namely a dishwasher and a fuel stove, which served slender down his solutions. (He loves to bake and routinely would make fresh pasta by hand.)

He in the end located a one particular-bedroom apartment on 51st avenue in the coronary heart of the Theater District, with laundry in the building and a small but effectively-appointed kitchen area. The portion-time doorman was a bonus, and he was thrilled to be throughout the avenue from the Gershwin, wherever he has programs to see “Wicked,” his favorite musical, for the eighteenth time. It’ll be a celebration of his birthday in early September, but also his initial musical article-Covid, and a return to the second musical he ever noticed as a baby rising up in Arizona.

His new living space is about the size of his previous apartment, and loaded with gentle despite the density of the community, which has permitted him to produce his plant-rearing abilities. “I’m no more time an in excess of-waterer,” he reported with cautious satisfaction. “Some of the crops are thriving, but with some of them, I’m unsure if they’re the angry center little one or just never want to exist.”

With an influx of crops and an upgraded couch, Mr. Tom has been mindful not to group his apartment with much too several plants, offered the importance of acoustics to both of those his personal piano exercise and his do the job as a coach. When a area incorporates a lot more items that seem can bounce off, the seem fades much more swiftly. In his fairly spare living room, he stated, “I can participate in songs, and I truly feel like I’m immersed in the music.”

The 1 piece of artwork hanging in the area is a substantial summary piece that Mr. Tom commissioned from the painter Ariel Messeca, who is a friend. A trio of abstract paintings from Joseph Dermody, a Connecticut-based mostly artist, cling in his bedroom. Abstraction appeals to Mr. Tom: “I sit at my desk and my piano a large amount,” he said, “and I like to glance at anything that doesn’t have a recommended indicating to it, so I can give myself a imaginative brain crack.”

Over and above the enough space and saner commute, this new condominium has permitted Mr. Tom a much better operate-life equilibrium even when he operates in the neighborhood. The place has allowed him to take freelance coaching careers he would have previously turned down for commuting motives. Now, when he receives a break for lunch and dinner, he can go residence to recharge.

For those in the theater industry, “the pandemic forced us to talk to: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the industry was better to us?’ And I think element of that is creating positive you can advocate for yourself, and take treatment of on your own,” Mr. Tom said. “Being all around theater is good for the reason that I can move into it, but also stage out of it for a minute when I need to.”