This month "Mary Poppins" celebrates its sixth anniversary on Broadway.
But Christopher Shin of South Windsor, who is in the ensemble of the musical, is celebrating another sixth anniversary this year.
Shin, 26, -- not to be confused with playwright Christopher Shinn of Wethersfield -- was struck by a car in 2006, a month before his graduation from NYU -- and right before his showcase presentation for theatrical agents.
"I was crossing the street at 57th and Eighth, and a delivery van hit me, ran over both legs. People called 911 and the police and ambulance came. All I was thinking about was an audition for the revival of "A Chorus Line" a few days later, which would have been my first New York audition.
"I was told I had a broken fibula, which is the calf bone but it was a clean break mid shaft. I also has an abrasion on my knee. The other leg though was fine. After I was released from the hospital that night and later when I took my jeans off later I saw the tire marks on them but I didn't remember that. It was so fast."
Doctors told him "there was a possibility that I may not be able to get back to fully where I was, perhaps not able to dance and that was a huge blow. I'm very stubborn and that's when I straited to work really hard in physical therapy."
Shin's presentation was delayed until January, which he did on his crutches. That summer he was dancing again though not at a comfortable level. Eventually roles started coming in for regional theater productions of "Miss Saigon," "Thoroughly Modern Millie and "Hello, Dolly."
Shin's love of musical theater began in his freshman year in high school in South Windsor when he played the violin in the pit for the musical "Bye Bye Birdie." The next year he was on stage in the chorus of "Hello, Dolly!" By his junior year he was playing Riff in "West Side Story"and in senior year he did "Anything Goes."
"Coming from an Asian-immigrant family, my parents weren't happy when I told them this was what I wanted to pursue. They were about practical things. They said if I could get into one of the top schools, NYU being one of them, they said sure, not thinking I would get in."
After the accident, the roles, at all kinds of theaters and productions around the country, started increasing -- but he hadn't cracked Broadway. In Connecticut, Shin performed in the musical of "She Loves Me," as Arpad, at the Westport Country Playhouse, directed by Mark Lamos. He was also in "The Producers" at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury.
Shin, who lives in Astoria, Queens, started auditioning for "Mary Poppins" since 2008 and continued trying out for the chorus over the years until early this year when he finally got the gig. His first performance on Broadway happened on Feb. 28.
"I called my mother after I booked it and I asked her if she thought this was ever going to happen? She said, 'I don't know but if I knew that in a certain amount of time this would definitely happen, I would be OK with that. But it was not knowing.' And then she said to me, 'I now understand why people cry from happiness, because I am so happy for you' -- and my parents are not overly emotional people, so for her to say that to me was pretty special. And then to get to share with them a Broadway show, especially such a massive one as 'Poppins' -- was such a treat for me."
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