Peace and tranquility are not easy in Midtown, but Alexander Tom was able to find it across from the evil witch of the Gershwin Theater.
Tom, 29, is the Associate Program Director for the Musical Theater Program at Pace University in Manhattan. He also works in his apartments and local studios and is in the moonlight as an audition coach.
Moving from Harlem’s previous apartment to one of the city’s busiest districts in May this year meant for him to surround himself with the community as well as the theater. He will often leave home and see his friends immersed in the theater. rehearsal. West 51st Street can feel like a small town rather than a two-way street. Moving before rental prices began to recover from the pandemic downturn turned out to be the right move for Tom.
“It’s quiet, but I feel like I can make it as big as I want,” Tom said of a one-bedroom apartment. His biggest pandemic purchase was the Kawai Piano. He can entertain and play it thanks to the pre-war walls of the building. In fact, the neighbor next to him is also playing the piano — they can duet if they can only hear each other’s voices.
“I can’t hear the hustle and bustle of Midtown, but I can be wherever I want to go,” he said.
$ 2,025 | Midtown West
Alexander Tom, 29 years old
Profession: Associate Program Head of the Musical Theater Program at Pace University in Manhattan.
Favorite local coffee shop: “Bibble and Sip is a coffee shop owned by AAPI, whose mascot is Rama,” Tom said. “They have great cream puffs, coffee is great — I love my Bibble.”
Shows you need to watch now: Antoinette Chinonier Nuwandu’s “Passover”. “The writers not only do the great job of having conversations on stage, but they also encourage the audience to talk to them,” he said.
Earlier this year, while living in a studio on 125th Avenue and Broadway, Tom realized he was looking for more space. The studio was so small that it took months to properly arrange all the furniture to make it comfortable to live in. He planned to spend two months in South Carolina this summer working on a student production of “Hello Dolly!”. And he was worried that rent would rise significantly by the time he returned to the city.
Moving to downtown was a top priority. Commuting from Harlem to the financial district paced campus could take up to an hour and a half, depending on the whims of the MTA, and began to burden Tom. Many of his working days began with a 9 am class and ended with a midnight rehearsal. This means he has to come home late at night, get up at 5am and start over. “I’m young and fine,” he said. that Young, and I’m not that Great. “
You need to reduce your commute time. So he turned to apartments below 72nd and above 14th, mainly looking at apartments near Hell’s Kitchen and Midtown West, or Lincoln Square. At Harlem, he was accustomed to the specific equipment he didn’t want to let go of: the dishwasher and the gas stove, so he was able to narrow down his options. (He loves to bake and regularly makes fresh pasta by hand.)
He finally found a one-bedroom apartment on 51st Avenue in the heart of the theater district, with laundry in the building and a small but well-equipped kitchen. The part-time doorman was a bonus, and he was thrilled to be across from Gershwin, where he plans to see his favorite musical, “Wicked,” for the 18th time. It’s not only a celebration of his birthday in early September, but also his first musical post-covid and his return to the second musical he’s ever seen as a child raised in Arizona.
His new living room was about the size of his old apartment and filled with light despite the density of the neighborhood, which allowed him to develop his plant-rearing skills. “I’m no longer over-watering,” he said with caution and pride. “Some plants are thriving, but some plants don’t know if they are angry middle-aged children or just don’t want to exist.”
With the influx of vegetation and sofa upgrades, Tom took care not to have too many vegetation in the apartment, considering the importance of acoustics to both personal piano practice and work as a coach. The sound disappears faster if the room contains a lot of potential bounces. “I can play music and I feel like I’m absorbed in music,” he said in a relatively spacious living room.
The piece in the room is a large abstract piece that Tom commissioned his friend painter Ariel Messeka. A trio of abstract paintings by Connecticut-based artist Joseph Dermody adorns his bedroom. The abstraction appeals to Tom. “I sit a lot at my desk and on the piano,” he said. “And I like to see things that have no defined meaning to it, so I can give myself a creative mind to break.”
This new apartment goes beyond ample space and commuting to enable a better work-life balance, even when Tom works in the neighborhood. The place allowed him to take on a freelance coaching job that he would have previously refused for commuting reasons. Now when he takes a break for lunch and dinner, he can go home and recharge.
For people in the theater industry, “The pandemic forced us to ask:’Wouldn’t it be better for us?’ And some of them you defend yourself. And I think it’s about being able to take care of yourself, “said Tom. “Being around the theater is great because I can step into the theater, but I can get out of the theater for a short while when I need it.”