From Understudy to Leading Lady to Quarantine: A Teen Broadway Star's Journey As Coronavirus Shutters Show

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It was just before 7 p.m. and Presley Ryan, about to step on stage in “Beetlejuice” on Broadway, grabbed a few pennies and placed them into her bulky black boots for good luck. 

“I wear them throughout the entire show because I am a very superstitious person,” Presley, 16, told from her dressing room at the Winter Garden Theatre March 10. 

Something she wasn’t banking on that Tuesday night was playing her final performance of Lydia Deetz, a role made famous by Winona Ryder that she in turn made her own, in the musical adaptation of the 1988 cult classic film. 

Presley is one of millions of teenagers across the country who are now missing their formative teenage moments: proms, recitals, spring musicals, graduations and sporting championships have all been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. For Presley, the opportunity to be the leading lady of a Broadway musical -- a less common but just as important right of passage for this young person’s life -- was put on hold.