Broadway sleeps in Upper Manhattan

Performers moving north get a helping hand from brokerages dominated by actors

Jun.June 01, 2014 07:00 AM
From left:

From left: Sarah Saltzberg, Brian Letendre and Kathleen LaMagna

When the curtains go down each night on Broadway, it’s exit, stage north.

That’s because a rising number of New York’s performers are calling Upper Manhattan home, helped by a collection of brokers who share stage backgrounds.

New York’s Broadway scene is “a very tight-knit community,” said Brian Letendre, an agent at Bohemia Realty and a stage veteran, with roles in “Urban Cowboy,” “Moving Out” and “Mary Poppins” in his repertoire. “Actors help actors, always.”

Letendre helped John Michael Fiumara and Ryan Breslin, both in the “Newsies,” ensemble, find rentals in Washington Heights. “I was really tight with the cast,” he said. “They needed somebody they could go to who they could trust .”

Bohemia salesperson Kathleen LaMagna found a Harlem rental for Bradley Gibson, who’s treading the boards in “Rocky,” as a swing — theater speak for a performer who covers multiple roles for absent cast members — and as an understudy for Apollo Creed. Gibson and a roommate took a two-bedroom pad in April.

LaMagna, who studied with Gibson at the Boston Conservatory , said actors need a break from cramped theaters in noisy Midtown. “Up here, there are a bunch of parks,” she said. “It just feels more open, and you have a little more breathing room.”

Bohemia co-founder Sarah Saltzberg, who made her Broadway debut in the Tony Award–winning “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” said artsy types are heading Uptown because it hasn’t yet been completely gentrified. “As Harlem and Upper Manhattan have started to become developed … it’s only become more attractive,” she said.

Bohemia, a brokerage that handles sales and rentals from Inwood to the Upper West Side, has swelled to 68 agents from 42 in January, and 49 of those agents have theater backgrounds.

Bohemia’s agents aren’t the only ones who’ve donned greasepaint, nor are they alone luring Broadway talent Uptown. City Connections Realty broker and former Broadway actor Whitney Osentoski has sold at least five units in a West 138th Street condo to cast members from “Wicked.”

Bohemia’s Michaela Morton, an understudy in Ballybeg Theatre’s “The Taste Of It,” recently helped an actor friend, Nathaniel Claridad, find a pad in Washington Heights. Claridad, who had a role in the Public Theater’s “Here Lies Love,” reached out to Morton about the Uptown market. “He was really excited by what he saw up here … you can have closets without living in them.”

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