Special Reports

First Person: My Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of My Dreams

Child star Abigail Shapiro talks about her road to the New York stage.

Abigail Shapiro stars in the musical Liberty at Theatre 80.

It has been such an amazing experience being a part of the musical Liberty at Theatre 80. I was not anticipating getting this role, and I've also never had the chance to play the title role in a show before, so it's been such an incredible experience! Additionally I can relate to the character in an interesting way that I didn't quite realize until we started the show.

When I first arrived in New York City for a winter vacation, I was a young 11-year-old filled with wonder and fascination. I came to New York from Tampa, Florida, which was different in a number of ways, and I'd never been in such a city before. I had no idea what to expect, or what lay ahead of me. After seeing Wicked, my first Broadway show, I just knew I wanted to be a Broadway performer.

I'd heard of a Broadway theater camp in New Jersey from a family friend, and I realized that this could get me one step closer to being on Broadway. The only problem was covering the costs for the camp. My parents agreed that if my sister Milly and I could raise the money needed, they would pay for the travel, a place to stay, and other necessities, that is, if we both were consistent with our chores. Both of us were determined, and we set up fundraisers and performing events where we collected donations.

Abigail Shapiro in a scene from Liberty: A Monumental New Musical at Theatre 80.
(© Zach Payne)

After a long five months we finally achieved our goal, and we were off to New Jersey! I had a blast at that theatre camp, all of our hard work and determination paid off. Only a month later, we sent in our videotaped auditions for the musical How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Surprisingly, both Milly and I got called back, and had the chance to fly back up to NYC. During our time there, we also went in to audition for Matilda the Musical. I was terribly nervous! Both of us were. We had never been on an actual audition for a Broadway show before! But we refused to let our nerves bring us down, and we both ended up booking each of our first auditions.

Liberty comes to America from France unaware of what the future may hold, but she stays hopeful and determined to achieve her goals. She needs to come up with a certain amount of money to fund her pedestal, so she can stand for freedom. However, after seeing that America has only offered her broken promises, she almost gives up. Yet she stays hopeful and determined, and finally she does achieve her goals.

Like Liberty, Milly and I needed to come up with a certain amount of money, in our case, to go to the Broadway theater camp. Many times we almost gave up, our nerves almost held us back in our first Broadway auditions. But we held on to hope and reminded ourselves of how far we came and what we did to pursue our dreams.

Featured In This Story