Natalie Sullivan is a 2011 TU graduate with a degree in Musical Theatre. She calls Omaha, Neb., home, but currently resides in New York City and performs regularly at various Off-Broadway/Comedy venues. Her most recent shows include: The Hungry Hungry Games: An Unauthorized Musical Parody (Katniss), Law and Disorder: Suggestion Victims Unit (improv), and Primal Scream (musical improv house team at the Queens Secret Improv Club).
During my senior year of college, I had a grand idea of what my life would be like once I graduated. I was going to take my B.A. in Musical Theatre and immediately move to New York City to pursue a life on the stage. However, reality soon crept in, and I realized I would have to put this plan on hold in order to save up for my big move. I ultimately decided to accept a job offer from a touring children’s theatre that had seen me at a conference a few months prior to graduation. It definitely was not Broadway, but it was a job in theatre, so I took it. Little did I know that this job would change my life and ultimately my outlook on a career in the entertainment industry.
Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT, Inc.), based out of Missoula, Mont., is the world’s largest touring children’s theatre. They send out approximately 50 teams of two actors equipped with a script, set, costumes, etc… to cast up to 60 children in original musicals all over the country. These shows are auditioned for, rehearsed, and performed all in one week; then it’s on to the next town. During my year on tour, I performed with, directed, and taught approximately 5,000 children with residencies spanning from Kentucky to Washington state. Because I was constantly on the move, my life outside of my job was really dependent on the people I met each week. Some of my recreational activities on tour included going on a cattle drive with Mormon ranchers, taking a ferry to the San Juan islands to go whale watching, rock climbing in Arizona, mountain climbing in Montana, and the list goes on and on.
At the Supreme Headquarters for Allied Powers in Europe.
In the fall of 2012, just over a year after graduating, I finally made the move to NYC. That following spring, I got an unexpected call from MCT, Inc. They asked me if I would be willing to take a few weeks off from my life in New York to tour a show on military installations in various European countries. Without any hesitation, I said yes and just a month later I was working on foreign soil in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and Belgium. If you had asked me my at any point during my college career where I would be two years after graduation, I would never have guessed in my wildest dreams that my answer would be performing at SHAPE (The Supreme Headquarters for Allied Powers in Europe aka NATO) just outside of Brussels.
The experiences that I had on both my domestic and international tours were irreplaceable. No, teaching and performing with children wasn’t initially my dream job, but it became a dream job once I opened up my mind up to it and tore down the walls of expectation. I was given the opportunity to instill a love of arts in many children whose arts programs were being cut. I traveled to places I might have otherwise never been and met hundreds of people whom I am still in contact with to this day. I guess the point that I am trying to make in this blog post is that New York (or your equivalent) will always be there, so don’t limit yourself. You are a constantly evolving individual. Embrace it, and don’t be afraid to explore different paths. Set your goals, don’t set your journey.