June 30th, 2014

wss broadway anita by openingsong

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The Broadway Star Who Got Away
Why Karen Olivo Left the Big City


By STEVEN McElroy

Fans of Karen Olivo could hardly have been surprised when she belted out what Charles Isherwood of The New York Times called a “rafter-rattling performance” of “Come to Your Senses” at City Center last weekend. They knew this Tony Award-winning actress could sing, so her well-received turn in the Encores! Off-Center presentation of “Tick, Tick ... Boom!,” which grapples with the sacrifices it takes to make a life in the theater, was to be expected.

Then again, that she was on a New York stage at all was a bit unusual. Hadn’t she made a decision much like her dancer character in the show and retired from performing?

Early last year, Ms. Olivo, 37 and a 2009 Tony winner for “West Side Story,” announced in a blog post that she was “starting over.” Shortly thereafter, she left New York for Madison, Wis. “It took a good look at what I was capable of to see that what I was giving away for the price of a ticket was a fraction of me,” she wrote in a message that concluded, “I leave behind the actor, and I start learning how to be me.”
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