Meghan Picerno has been playing Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s longest-running show, since before COVID. Now, she’s back in the role, giving credit to the community of artists that made the revival of art, theater and music possible. Here’s her West Side Story…
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
While I was born in Chicago, I came to New York for school, and now having been here almost a decade, it definitely is home now!
How did you end up in Hell’s Kitchen?
The main thing that brought me here was getting cast as Christine in Broadway’s longest-running show, The Phantom of the Opera.
What’s your favorite thing about Hell’s Kitchen?
Definitely the food scene — there are so many options that I can’t even pick a favorite! But, I am sharing a few of my “Happy Places” with you below.
And what’s your Hell’s Kitchen pet peeve?
I don’t always love walking through all the crowds on my way to a show.
Did you stay put when the pandemic hit or did you find an escape for some of the time?
I escaped to North Carolina to be with family, but it was such an incredible feeling when I made my way back. It reminded me all over again why I love living in New York City.
What did you do for work pre-COVID? What are you doing now?
I was playing Christine in Phantom pre-COVID and am so excited to be making our historic return to Broadway!
What’s the most interesting thing that you’ve learned during the pandemic?
This period was so humbling, frustrating, and yet also expansive. Artists and creatives relied on each other during this intense period of pain, fear, and challenge more than we ever have before. Despite the distance and intense limitations set upon our community, we still found a way to come together and support one another. I’m so proud to be a part of such a profound community, and I found there were indeed silver linings during this challenging time. Artists are some of the most incredible survivors, and we’re magically capable of to creating stars out of dust… And that’s just what we did! Even though our traditional creative spaces were “illegal” in a sense, we were still able to create meaningful art that was transformative, helping us emerge as new versions of ourselves, and helping those around the world not directly part of our community heal, grieve, and escape (amongst other things) during this pandemic. Art is indeed the soul of humanity. As a society worldwide, we went through (and continue to go through) such unprecedented trauma that most of us have never experienced before, and it is now a commonality that we all share and relate to, and will need to heal from. It is a privilege to be a small part of the very community that will be such an essential component to that very healing process, and ease suffering.
Tell us one thing that’s given you hope during the pandemic?
The aforementioned said community of actors, artists, and musicians I’m lucky enough to be a part of has given me hope to continue and reaffirm that this is what I am born to do. I loved how during the pandemic I was able to connect with people all over the world because everyone was experiencing a shutdown. Technology allowed us to come together and continue doing what we love in some way, shape, or form.
What’s the most serendipitous (random/obscure/ insane) experience that’s happened to you in Hell’s Kitchen?
I felt so lucky to be on CNN New Year’s Eve special for the 2020 ball drop in Times Square. It was such a celebratory evening, and we were all thinking it was going to be a marvelous year and how great it was to be there that night… cut to a few months later and everything took a complete 180!
What’s your closest brush with world fame and celebrity?
Currently starring as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera — the world-famous musical — and excited for what the future holds!
What’s your superpower?
My superpower is loving my quirky authentic self, surprising those by how I don’t fit into one little “box”, and unabashedly going after what I want full throttle. I always dive in.
What song do you sing at the top of your voice in the shower?
It is always changing, but it ranges from Queen to Led Zeppelin to Disney to pop… haha you never know what you’re going to get. 😉
Which people inspire you the most?
I have a lot of strong women in my life that are like my fairy godmothers and who are all incredibly talented, successful, and push me to be the best version of myself. I am forever inspired by my family, my inner circle, and, in general, the strong women who have broken glass ceilings and are helping to create endless possibilities for other women.
What’s your favorite quote or saying?
Be unapologetically yourself!
Do you love Times Square? Why, or why not?
Yes, actually I do because I love the feeling I get walking through TSQ after a show, looking around, and having a moment to myself (amongst the crowds) to take it all in — it can be a surreal experience and helps me realize all that I have achieved. It’s like “WOW! I actually do this?!” I love its intoxicating energy.
Do you love Hudson Yards? Why, or why not?
Yes, it’s so chic and modern — what a cool space! I also love how it is right on the water. Little Spain is delicious and the Vessel is beautiful. I love any place where people from all over the world are gathering and sharing a collective moment — even if you don’t realize it.
Add your shameless plug or personal profile?
Come see The Phantom of the Opera and follow me on Instagram @meghanpicerno
Meghan’s Hell’s Kitchen Happy Places
Schmackary’s Cookies: Such a great treat to get after a show!
5 Napkin Burger: I love getting dinner in between shows. Their veggie burger is YUM.
Lillie’s Victorian: A perfect post-show drink spot.
Dutch Fred’s: This is where I had my post-Broadway debut party!!
Bird & Branch Coffee: Amazing coffee that helps get me through those 8-show weeks.