Today's Globe story begins with Umoh breaking down in tears at the meet and greet for the Broadway production of Ragtime.
There was a lot behind those tears - disbelief, elation, pride that her Broadway debut will not be just any role, but this one - Sarah, the martyred black girl at the emotional center of the show - the part she’d performed to acclaim at New Repertory Theatre in 2006. The part that made Audra McDonald, her idol, famous in the original 1998 Broadway production and earned her a Tony Award.
She was also feeling relief.
When Umoh entered the Conservatory six years ago, she was the long-shot hopeful from Texas in the school’s competitive musical-theater program. She didn’t know how to read music. She had so little formal vocal training her voice teacher described her as “clueless.’’ She’d never even seen a Broadway show.
Now, she has her own private dressing room with a window facing West 52d Street, prime Broadway real estate across from the “Jersey Boys’’ marquee.
Here, for me though, is the interesting part of the story:
Principals on Broadway get anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 a week, says her agent; Umoh calculates that if the show runs for three years, she’ll be able to pay off her whole student loan.
How many conservatory students, and MFA graduates across the country will ever come close to earning 100K plus for three years straight? This happy ending is a little bittersweet if you think of it broadly.
You can read the whole series: The Education of Stephanie Umoh.