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  • Writer's pictureMegan Richards

I spent Christmas Day at Hooters

The week of my birthday, before my final interview with the restaurant, I booked my first post-NYU contract! Like all God’s gifts, it went above and beyond what I had hoped for. Six months as a Production Vocalist on a Caribbean-bound cruise ship!

I had met a seasoned Broadway actor while I was at NYU. An undergrad voice student of mine had (wealthy) parents who were big-time donors to The Broadway League, or something like that and rubbed elbows with some hoity-toitys.  My student invited me to tag along to a swanky donor event and it was there (with a look that said, “My agent told me I had to be here”) that I met this actor. I asked him what advice he’d give to a newbie like me. Without a thought he popped off with, “Don’t do cruise ships.” He might as well have said, “No more happiness.” I’d taken my first cruise when I was 15 years old and watching the productions on the ship was really the first professional live theatre I’d ever experienced. When I booked the cruise ship contract, a part of me felt like I’d come full-circle. So phooey on you, famous Broadway actor! (You were great in Shrek, by the way. And Spamalot.)

That summer I was giddy with the knowledge that I did not have to go to any more auditions. I know there are many actors who keep auditioning to be seen, to make contacts or to potentially book an even better contract. But I tend to kick up my heels, watch the rat race go by and just enjoy that sweet spot of time between booking a contract and the contract actually starting.

The time between booking the gig and rehearsals starting wasn’t long enough for the restaurant to justify training me, so they gave me a raincheck on my final interview. My rent was paid through the summer as a final carryover of school money from my grandparents and I had enough saved to get me through until rehearsals. So I got busy frolicking the city! I (finally) went through the membership class at my church, watched a movie under the Brooklyn Bridge, flirted with guys I’d just met like I was in a rom-com, went to see the dinosaurs at the National History Museum and went to a polo match on Governor’s Island like a fancy person. It was pretty much a two-month vacation like something out of a movie as God poured out gift after gift.

Some friends threw me a goodbye party at our wonderful apartment in the Financial District and a few days later I boarded a plane to Las Vegas and started rehearsals.

Fast forward to Christmas Day, I’m lounging on a hammock in St. Thomas chatting on the phone with friends who are stuck in a blizzard in New York. And – regrettably – eating lunch at Hooters because it’s the only thing on the island that’s open. #makebetterchoices.

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