Stage actress’ colorful condo has English beat
- Last Updated: 11:16 PM, March 7, 2012
- Posted: 10:00 PM, February 29, 2012
British actress Charlotte Parry has had a long courtship with New York. She first became aware of its charms 12 years ago, when she spent four months performing in David Leveaux’s Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “The Real Thing,” but it took much longer for her to make a full-time commitment.
“I came over again with Peter Hall’s company for “As You Like It” in 2005, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll stay,’ but then I was homesick,” Parry recalls. It wasn’t until she was back in New York City for the 2006 revival of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” starring Lynn Redgrave, that she decided it was time to make the move.
“I didn’t think I’d stay, but I guess now it’s home,” Parry says, standing in her bright two-bedroom condo that she moved into three years ago.
Parry, who’s now starring in yet another revival, John Osborne’s classic drama “Look Back in Anger,” began her search for a place in 2008, when she inherited some money with the condition it be used for a down payment. She started out looking at one-bedrooms, but then her two best friends urged her to look in the building they lived in, a restored prewar development (dating back to 1910) on the border of Morningside Heights and Harlem. Parry ended up buying an apartment with the same layout as her pals, just three floors above them.
“I didn’t think I could afford anything more, but the building really needed to sell the units — it was when the housing market was at its lowest — so I got a really great deal,” she says.
After a little bargaining, she ended up paying just shy of $500,000 for what she estimates to be 650 square feet, though it feels larger.
“It’s called SoHa, which I think is so funny,” Parry says of the neighborhood, just south of Harlem and steps from Central Park, where Parry runs and bikes.
She decorated her home with photos and paintings that remind her of the seaside town of Southwold, England, where she grew up. She also hung posters of the theatrical shows in which she’s appeared.
Many of these, including a photo of her parents’ house and a poster signed by her fellow cast members from the Bridge Project’s inaugural production of “The Winter’s Tale,” are hung in her second bedroom, which also contains a daybed and easel for the painting she does in her spare time.
But she hasn’t had much spare time since “Look Back in Anger” opened on Feb. 2 at the Laura Pels Theatre. This pared-down production (one character and nearly an hour of dialogue have been cut) focuses on the discontentment of four 20-somethings in 1950s England. Parry plays an uptight churchgoing lady who begins to emerge from her shell when she shacks up with her friend’s husband, Jimmy (Matthew Rhys).
“When we were first doing it, I would feel a little grim afterwards,” Parry admits, but bonding with her castmates over drinks has helped.
In SoHa, the locavore restaurant Community, on Broadway and 112th Street, is Parry’s go-to hangout, but many newcomers are poised to give it competition.
“There are all these places popping up on Frederick Douglass now, like this place called Bier. It’s the new Broadway. Give it 10 years,” she says.
But Parry might not be there that long.
“My dream before I ever thought I’d live in America was to have a little cottage. And I still want to have a cottage by the sea in Southwold,” she says. “I still sometimes think that sounds like a simpler life. Whether I’m working or not, there’s still this desire to change my life completely and become a school teacher.”
For now, she makes do with a framed painting of a Southwold landscape in her living room, a patchwork bedspread her mom made her and an English tea kettle given to her by a lifelong friend. There’s a painting of a cat on the kettle that bears a striking resemblance to her own cat, Rufus, a rescue from the Urban Cat League.
“We always grew up with cats,” Parry says. “I think when I finally realized I’m living here and not going home — and I do miss my family a lot — I thought if I get a cat, it might make me feel there’s a bit of home here.”
* A patchwork bedspread made by her mother
* Her foster cat, nicknamed Roo
* Her easels and oil paints
* A teapot and cups from England (right)
* An antique trunk (from a show she did) she uses as a coffee table
* The sheepskin rugs
* The photos and art on the walls that remind her of home and her family on the English seaside