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Going To Kansas City: Off Broadway, Onto The Midwest

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Tracy Terstriep Herber

“Going to Kansas City” is a series that shares the personal stories of how people came to Kansas City — and why they stayed.

Tracy TerstriepHerber had a career on Broadway in New York City as a Radio City “Rockette” and performed in Will Rogers Follies and A Christmas Carol. She was also the understudy to the Tony Award winning lead “Ulla” in the Broadway hit The Producers. 

But once she had her first kid, and realized she wanted a second, she wasn't feeling the right balance of career and family life.

Some of her theater friends in New York were surprised when she decided to move to Kansas City, but TerstreipHerber found a thriving theater community here, and right now she doesn't want to be anyplace else. 

Name: Tracy TerstriepHerber

Age: 43

Neighborhood/city: 49-63 neighborhood in Midtown Kansas City, Mo.

Came to Kansas City from: East Coast (New York City and Washington, D.C.)

Arrived in: 2008

Why I came: My parents moved back to the Midwest once they were empty nesters. We were enticed by them to consider this city as a place to live. So, on a visit we checked out the downtown skyline— we saw the Kauffman Center breaking ground, and walked around a First Friday in the Crossroads. We saw a city doing exciting things, and it was infectious. On the airplane ride home my husband and I looked at each other and said, "Let's do it." 

First impressions of the city: A city rich with history, but also one in the midst of building new history. 

View of the city today: Some of the things that were seedlings, or works-in-progress as we moved here — like the Kauffman Center and the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity — are now completed and thriving. It’s literally a different skyline, and that’s exciting. My husband and I were in New York when its skyline tragically changed during the attacks of 9/11. So to see this city's change in such a grand and positive way has been a gift.

The biggest surprise when you first got here: Before moving here, we were warned that the only viable public school options were in Johnson County, Kan., or Parkville, Mo. We gave ourselves more than a year of renting to explore neighborhoods, communities and schools. We were thrilled to find that there are unique alternatives, especially if you want to stay closer to the city and contribute to its vibrant culture. 

What I miss: Proximity to large body of water, and the great seafood that comes with that too! People often ask me if we miss our Broadway careers and that lifestyle. That life was exactly where we needed to be during our 20's and 30's. We sometimes get nostalgic for our New York life, but we don't wish to be anywhere else right now. 

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Tracy Terstriep Herber

Why I stayed: Our kids get to see doting grandparents weekly, along with many extended cousins. They are happy and learning things at Academie Lafayette that they would not be exposed to at any other school. Also, since we moved here I was able to get my Master's at UMKC (in Theater History and Dramaturgy), and am now teaching within the MFA acting program at UMKC, the Kansas City Ballet, and am on the creative team for The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.

Favorite thing to do in Kansas City: I love walking through the sculpture garden at the Nelson-Atkins, taking my kids to Sporting KC games, and First Fridays. And I love sharing all the great performing arts that is alive here with friends when they come to play shows at the Rep or Starlight. 

Next Kansas City adventure: ​I'm very excited to be teaching two new classes this semester, Elizabethan Period Movement and Ballroom Dancing. I don't know yet what shows I'll be choreographing this year.

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Suzanne Hogan is contributing announcer, producer and reporter for KCUR 89.3. She also hosts and produces the podcast, A People’s History of Kansas City. Reach her at suzanne@kcur.org