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T.G. Shuck: Tale of two cities – Lexington and NYC – and how family manages to live in both


So how does one end up with a child on Broadway under the bright lights of New York City?
 

The heart of New York City...I took this photo!

This is a question that has been posed to me on more than one occasion, so I figured I’d give it a whirl and try to explain. Just make talented kids … it is that simple!
 

All jokes aside this journey and season of life has been rewarding, challenging and sometimes heartbreaking all at the same time. Oh yeah … I think I’ve reduced part of the national debt in the process with travel while increasing mine exponentially.

 

This whole thing kicked off for my wife, Angie, and I a few years ago when our two oldest daughters, Sydney and Brooklyn, started into some dance lessons at a small studio run by our friend Traci Stone here in Lexington. Over time we discovered that Sydney had an amazing gift for singing and found out on accident that Brooklyn could really “bring it” too. This led to the A.C.E. Academy through the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre.
 

The kids refer to it as “Triple Threat”…since they practice singing, dancing and acting. After several months associated with this program, individual singing/dancing lessons and getting hooked up with a local manager, we decided to take a shot at the bright lights of NYC and the dreaded “open casting calls” on Broadway. At the time I didn’t know if we were crazy, stupid or both! I quickly learned that we were all of the above.

 

My girls, from left, Brooklyn, Sydney and Raleigh.

My leaving the nutty world of television was actually a huge blessing relative to the opportunities it created for the girls. This afforded me extra time and flexibility to support their efforts. Less than two months after hanging up my TV weather cleats, the four of us (minus our youngest Raleigh) jetted to New York City in late April 2012 for their first open call.
 

I’ll freely admit I had no idea what the heck lay ahead … and I might have run the other way had I known! We stepped off the plane, had lunch and then proceeded to stand in line for four hours just so the girls could get in front of the casting folks for like 30 seconds. I never waited that long for a ride at Kings Island, and at least I got some pleasure at the end of it. This was definitely not in the travel brochure. It was a scene straight out of American Idol; if there were five kids there, there must have been 500. What was I thinking? No wait … I wasn’t!

 

A funny thing happened on my way to purgatory though, both girls got called back for another look. The next day the same thing happened again, lots of waiting, a sea of kids and more call backs! Hey, wait a minute, maybe we are on to something here.

 

My wife Angie, Sydney and Brooklyn on the first trip to NYC in April 2012.

And so began the official journey toward the bright lights of Broadway. Through the remainder of 2012, Angie, Sydney and Brooklyn (I was on the sidelines at that point) made a number of trips back and forth to the city. They picked up a New York agent along the way, which was like putting a jet engine in a Pinto, which sped things up. Both girls crept closer to landing roles as we hit the holiday season. Then a Christmas gift arrived, about a week early.

 

Against all travel odds in front of Christmas, Angie and Brooklyn made it to New York for an audition for Annie the musical. The production had opened in November, but the company was adding an understudy role for the orphan characters. For those who don’t know, most Broadway productions have what are called “swings” – actors who know the various roles in the play and fill in when someone is out sick, has a day off, etc. This particular callback wasn’t until after the holidays, so the waiting game was a little longer than usual. Lo and behold, the Monday after New Year’s Day, Brooklyn was back in New York ever so close to landing a role. Four days and four cuts later, the call came from her agent: “She’s in!”… Say what????

 

 

Just like that, with one ring of the telephone, our 7-year-old (at the time) went from a second-grader living in Lexington, Ky., to a Broadway actress. After months of running back and forth to New York City, Brooklyn was officially cast in Annie in the heart of Broadway on Jan. 10.
 

Brooklyn

As a parent, what is your emotion at that moment? Everything you can imagine: excitement, joy, happiness, fear, sadness, apprehension and the list goes on. The thought of having a split family was a terrifying proposition, but as parents we sacrifice when we have to, especially when an incredible opportunity comes along.
 

Ten days later on Jan. 20, Angie and Brooklyn were wheels up to NYC, while Sydney, Raleigh and I stayed here in Kentucky. I became Mom, Dad and everything in between to my brood here, all the while missing the New York crew terribly. Nearly five months later, through patience, love and understanding, we’ve all weathered the time and space apart plus made the most of every time we’ve been together.

 

 

Now that summer vacation has arrived, I’m flying solo here in the Bluegrass while the girls all do their thing in New York. I go back and forth as I’m able to, but of course it is never enough for any of us. Sydney continues to audition with good progress and feedback…and now Raleigh has joined the fray so heaven help NYC; the little stinker might just take the city by storm.

 

So there you have it – a long answer to a short question, and a blessing for sure.

 

Lexington native T.G. Shuck is editor and “Wizard” of KyForward’s weather page. He is a meteorologist, father of three girls and husband of Angie. He started his career with WKYT as a student at Georgetown College and was chief meteorologist there for 11 years.
 
 
 


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