The dramatic discovery of Nantucket’s Chelsea Remick
At the age of three, Nantucket native Chelsea Remick had already found her favorite concert venue: the Stop and Shop. From the rolling stage of her mother’s shopping cart, she would belt out songs at the top of her lungs as Kim Remick would travel the aisles for her weekly grocery run. Kim would apologize to the Stop and Shop staff for her daughter’s loud performances, but the performances grew so popular at the market that young Chelsea would receive applause at the checkout line.
Jeff and Kim Remick came to Nantucket from North Carolina with the idea of staying a few years and then moving on after their children got older. Twenty years later, with Jeff’s established HVAC business and their family of three, the Remicks have come to realize how incredibly nurturing a place Nantucket is, particularly for a budding talent.
While Chelsea always enjoyed singing, her latent skills were never formally recognized until one afternoon at the age of nine, when she auditioned for a role in the Nantucket Theatre Workshop’s performance of Annie. Just twenty- four hours before the audition date, Chelsea went up to her room, memorized the words to “Tomorrow,” and joined the long list of hopefuls looking to be a part of the Theatre Workshop’s production. After Chelsea stood on the stage and sang her number, both artistic director John Shea and the production’s director Cynthia Csabay were speechless. In fact, Csabay had tears in her eyes having realized that she was a witness to a talent that she would later term “extraordinarily gifted.”
Csaby, a professional actress and singer with Broadway and television-commercial credits to her name, recognizes talent when she sees it. As an actor, singer, and director with the Theatre Workshop, Csabay worried about finding a suitable Annie for the company’s production and feared having to go off-island to recruit the lead. “When Chelsea walked into the room, she was unassuming and we had no idea what to expect,” Csabay remembers. “When she stood on stage, all of a sudden we saw this young girl who was self-possessed, had a sparkling personality, and sung perfectly on pitch.” Csabay added, “She is one of the most extraordinarily gifted kids I have ever worked with.”
Chelsea was selected to play the role of Annie, and each of the twenty-three performances were sold out as a result. So impressed was Csabay, a New York-trained Broadway singing coach for twenty-five years, she asked Chelsea’s mother if she could become her professional mentor. The two began working together to develop Chelsea’s singing and acting skills in New York, which has led her to auditions in the Broadway production of Annie, and a movie with Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep. In a uniquely Nantucket turn of events, the actual writer of the play Annie, Thomas Meehan, was in the audience of Chelsea’s final performance on the island, and the two met at a party in ’Sconset. Meehan approached both Chelsea and Kim Remick, and let them both know that Chelsea possessed a rare talent that suggested she was Broadway bound.
This summer Chelsea will be performing in Cinderella, and while she is commuting to New York with her coach in preparation for her next career move in August, Nantucketers will have another chance to enjoy Chelsea’s talents as she may perform in front of the seven-thousand- member audience at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital Boston Pops Concert.
Kim Remick cannot express how grateful she is for the opportunities presented to her daughter in an unlikely spot thirty miles out to sea. Indeed, Nantucket has in its own way led Chelsea to the heart of New York’s performance world and put her on a trajectory that none of the Remicks would have ever imagined. Had the family not stayed on the island, it is possible that their daughter’s talents may have gone unrecognized, denying us of a future Broadway star. Accord- ing to those who have seen Chelsea Remick in action, the question of her success is not a matter of if, but when. According to Kim Remick, just getting to this point means she has already succeeded.