Despite Recent Trip to Manhattan, Tony Winner Karen Olivo Taking Break from Theatre

By Michael Gioia
26 Jul 2013

Karen Olivo
Karen Olivo
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Tony Award winner Karen Olivo, who was last seen on stage in the original Off-Broadway run of Murder Ballad prior to her break from the world of acting, now resides in Madison, WI, according to Florida publication The Ledger.

"Maybe one day I'll go back, but right now I feel like this is exactly where I'm supposed to be," Olivo, a Tony Award winner for her performance as Anita in the Broadway revival of West Side Story, told The Ledger. The actress confirmed that she walked away from theatre and moved to Wisconsin in June.

"I was going through lots of different things — my latest divorce and sort of reassessing a lot of things about my life," added Olivo. "This feeling of wanting more has been there for quite some time, and you know the [acting] business is such a hard business that you get dealt a lot of tough breaks and you sort of push them aside and dust yourself off and keep trudging along. And there were enough of those things that were amassing that made me want to reassess why I do what I do and why I'm good at it."

Olivo said her life now consists of finding new friends and exploring new art — pottery and playing the guitar — but the actress did take a recent trip to Manhattan, which included a visit to Murder Ballad, the show that Olivo did not transfer with to the Union Square Theatre for its summer commercial run.



"Macbeth tonight! MurderBallad tomorrow! Here Lies Love the day after...," Olivo tweeted July 11. Following Murder Ballad, she tweeted the cast and said, "‪@conjohnlee ‪@Rebeccasername ‪@CaissieLevy ‪@MurderBallad Last night was dirty, sexy, unsettling and Rockstar caliber! Thank you!!!"

After Here Lies Love, the actress said, "HERE LIES LOVE@ the Public....you changed me. That's all I can say currently...I need a moment."

Olivo also had a recent back-and-forth Twitter conversation with friend and In the Heights co-star Lin-Manuel Miranda. "I miss us, bro!," said Olivo, who attached a YouTube video of her and Miranda's version of "Empire State of Mind" at the 2010 Broadway on Broadway.

"Well, you know what to do,‪@Karenolivo," responded Miranda with a picture of basketball player Michael Jordan donning jersey number "45" — referencing the player's return to the NBA in 1995, following a public retirement in 1993.

Olivo said, "‪@Lin_Manuel anything is possible, I suppose...haven't found a project to tempt me yet, though."

"I don't have to live up to anything [in Wisconsin]," Olivo said to The Ledger. "There are no preconceived notions out here in Madison, and I like that. I like having to work for my friendships and the respect of others."

Olivo has also been seen on Broadway in Rent and Brooklyn. The actress also prompted this year's five-year reunion of In the Heights. Read about the evening here, and click here for the Playbill.com interview with Miranda, who cites Olivo as the reason for reuniting with the original cast.