Living Unscripted: Meet the Cast of Characters

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There’s a lot that can happen in the Ladies Room. It’s a relatively safe place where women wash their hands, brush their hair and reapply their makeup in the company of other women. If two or more friends are at the mirror, a conversation is likely… a passing stranger might add a witty comment or two and feel a certain camaraderie walking out together… In many ways, it’s the female equivalent of a ‘club room’ –and I’ve actually met the most important people in my producing career at the mirror in the Ladies Room (including my mentor, with just that camaraderie).

New Year’s Eve 2006 was the day I dove off the diving board & in to the choppy waters of theatrical producing. I had just earned my first credit as co-producer of an off-Broadway musical by raising $250,000 and was invited to a theater party celebrating the final performance of the show closing and the opening of mine, in the theater where they both played. Living on my own and ditched by the on-again-off-again-BF-from-out-of-town, I was grateful for the company of strangers. Just after midnight, I went searching for the Ladies Room and found, as I entered, Paley and JB, two co-producers of the closing show, reapplying their makeup in the mirror and chatting … I joined in the chit chat and we exchanged cards before leaving that evening, never imagining then how we would reconnect years later.

I met Emma a couple of months later, not in the ladies room but over a glass of wine around a big table with several others after a performance of that first off-Broadway show…Somewhat intense and oh (!) sooo smart, she runs a non-profit theater company devoted to new work and I made a mental note to check it out – fairly unnoticed over the next couple of years, I did.

Fast forward to an HHH (hot, humid & horrible) August morning in 2009, when the four of us, each of us knowing one or the other better than any, met at LaGuardia and boarded a plane to New Orleans for a look/see at a new musical seeking producers for a Broadway transfer. Over the next 36 hours, we shared cabs, sunscreen and the stories of our lives while sightseeing, shopping and sipping New Orleans jazz. By the time we landed back in New York we declared ourselves a ‘club.’ Promises were made to meet once a month to support each other in our projects and an incredible unbreakable bond was formed.

Paley, the youngest, and I (the oldest) had already worked together on several projects and developed a rhythm to our pitch. She has a law degree and a legal mind but preferring not to practice law, she works part-time at a non-profit for a decent wage and a free parking space. Facing her just emptied nest and a loveless marriage, she was starting therapy to help her cope with the inevitable… JB has been driving through her married life behind the wheel of a BMW, still investing joint dollars in Jimmy Choos and David Yurman while waiting for the right cue to make her exit from a life and a life style she just doesn’t want to live anymore. And Emma, the political and artistic conscience of our gaggle, prefers her 18-year sidebar relationship with a man –who’s been married and divorced twice during that time and comes to town every so often to satisfy both their fantasies – to marriage vows. Contented with her life choices, she lives her mission statement bringing creative art to third world countries and steps outside her comfort zone when associating with us, we who actually pay for pedicures.

And me? … To the outside, I’m the matriarch, the sales guy, the glue with a confident stride that keeps everyone on an even keel. On the inside, however, I was managing the final few months of my daddy’s life, about to lose the man who inspired my life and the man I thought I’d be with the rest of my life. At the same time, after 23 years of fun in the sun & 8 years of separation, I am negotiating my divorce settlement with a man 10 years my senior, who is sporting an over-the-top love glow for anorexic woman with giant lips who’s 20 years his junior.

I walked in to the Ladies Room that New Year’s Eve in 2006, to take a break from the noise and flush away my past. Truth is, when I pushed through that door, I started my journey down a yellow brick road that would lead me to three unique and beautiful women also heading for change, leaning forward –each of us smart enough to see in another, a perfect storm of brains, brawn, charm and savvy.

Note to self: buy wine.

About Shaz

I’m 59 and never expected to be divorced and, having raised a big family in the city I grew up in, to be still living there now completely on my own. My parents are gone and my grown children have opted for smaller towns. My father passed away this past February and my children suggested I take off and make a world tour of all my friends overseas…In piecing that together in my mind, I imagined taking a boat across, as I did the first time I went to Europe with my grandmother, as a teenager – and in that vision, I imagined taking those first five days and writing. Writing about where I’d been, writing about what I want, writing about the crossing over from my past to my future.

In reestablishing myself as a single woman, I’ve made new connections with some fabulous women and realized I’m not the only one going through this; there are other women out there who are also on a journey to becoming whole again. I hope my personal adventure will help us all find humor in the aging process –and confidence in following our hearts.