Chris Henry Coffey and fiancée Jennifer Mudge are making an impressive double play on Broadway. Not only is he making his Broadway debut as baseball legend Joe DiMaggio in Bronx Bombers at the Circle in the Square theater, but she is playing Gloria in another sports-oriented show, Rocky, right around the corner at the Winter Garden.
Coffey created the role of DiMaggio, who appears at a fantasy dinner with other iconic New York Yankees such as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Derek Jeter, in the Primary Stages production of the show which ran Off-Broadway earlier this season.
We recently asked Coffey to recount a typical two-show Wednesday as he runs the bases from home to gym to the theater.
A typical Wednesday starts in similar fashion to almost every other day: an early morning pouncing and purring from our two sibling kittens. The cats are up earlier than us, so we’ve had to adjust and I’m usually the one to get them fed for the morning. Animals are new in our household, but we couldn’t resist adopting two from a stray’s litter my niece Megan raised this summer in Michigan. They keep us on our toes, and help us to maintain some structure at the apartment.
After feeding the cats, I have a long standing coffee ritual — French press or Chemex depending on the time — which gets me going in the right way. Without it, the day sometimes feels entirely thrown off. It’s scary how dependent I’ve become on both the caffeine and the ritual.
We have a floor-through loft kind of apartment, so our sleeping arrangement is pretty unique. We have a loft bed in the middle of the space, so I’ll hang out in our living room that faces the street — we live in Chelsea and love it — and enjoy my coffee while catching up on emails and bills.
If Jen is awake, we’ll make breakfast together which is always nice. I’ll squeeze some fresh orange or grapefruit juice and have some eggs with chicken sausage. But generally the morning is mine, and it’s quiet, and I’m in a good head space usually. I enjoy mornings, always have.
Bronx Bombers started previews on Jan. 10, so now I’m in performance/rehearsal mode. On a two-show Wednesday, I have to pace myself, but we don’t have any rehearsals on those days so it’s actually a luxury to just run the show back to back in front of audiences. But I’ll try to hit the gym either in the morning or in between shows, depending on the days’ schedule and when it works with any other obligations.
We belong to the Chelsea Piers sports club, a pretty extraordinary gym that I’ve always feel slightly spoiled by. It really feels like you leave the island of Manhattan for the time you’re there; you’re surrounded by water on three sides so there’s tons of light and room.
Over the years, I’ve learned that the key to a successful acting career is diversity. On any given day, and certainly Wednesday is no exception, I may have on-camera commercial and/or voice-over auditions and sometimes bookings, as well as audiobook narration. I may have to prepare for the narration by reading and studying the material. Needless to say, my agency and those taking care of my career are not idling while I’m performing on Broadway. I may have a film or television pilot to prepare as well — usually 10-12 pages of script for the next day. I’m lucky if I get a couple days to work on the material in advance. So it’s always crunch time!
Additionally, I teach and coach actors on occasion, so sometimes I squeeze a session in with a client in the morning or in between shows if it’s a Wednesday. I’ve done workshops in Europe and in New York, and coach privately. In fact, starting in March, I’ll be teaching a Contemporary Monologue class at Primary Stages’ Einhorn School of Performing Arts for five weeks.
As previously mentioned, Jennifer is currently working around the corner on 50th St. at the Winter Garden in Rocky. We’re able to have a late lunch together today at Green Symphony on 43rd St. After she’s released from tech for her show at around 10pm she waits in the lobby for me until my show comes down at 10:15pm. We jump on the A/C/E line, and are home in 15 minutes. It’s quite a treat and we’ll have even more of a set schedule in the next few weeks so we’ll be commuting to and from work on a daily basis
After a two-show day on a Wednesday, it’s nice to wind down either socially or at home with a glass of wine or a cocktail. If we’re home, Jen and I enjoy a good bourbon Manhattan, or if we’re in a New Orleans state of mind — which is quite often! — I’ll mix up some Sazaracs, possibly some Sidecars. We like the classic cocktails best. We’ll catch up on our day together, and watch some episodes of our new favorite shows or films. If we’re out and about, we like to find quieter places where we can enjoy company and conversation without strain. We usually prefer Bar Centrale, or the back room of O’Lunney’s on 50th near both our theaters.
Before long the day catches up to us. It’s late and it’s time for some family time at the apartment — the kittens need attention too. They play with their toys, we run around after them and before long we’re all exhausted. Time for some bed, a good book and two purring kittens to help us fall asleep.